Saturday, December 19, 2009

Life Tools for Greater Happiness and Meaning

With 2010 quickly approaching, it is time to consider ideas to make your life better. In fact, obtain greater happiness. Here is my initial list:

1. Learn to say “No”
2. Deal with conflict
3. Ask for help
4. Express appreciation
5. Exercise
6. Eat enough fruits & vegetables
7. Makes a budget
8. Spend within the budget
9. Parenting consistently
10. Express your feelings
11. Have fun
12. Learn something new
13. Engage socially
14. Seek pleasure
15. Find meaning
16. Be mindful
17. Enhance your spiritual life

Be sure to add your own.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Divorce and Children

Being straight with the kids is very important when you are in the process of a divorce or separation. In a brief article from Mental Health CEs, there are five considerations for parents.

#1 Tell Them What’s Happening
#2 Reassure Them with Certainty
#3 Lift Blame
#4 Influence Their Development
#5 Avoiding Bad Mouthing

Most children feel a loss of control during marital discord. Have a family meeting to allow each member to ask questions and share their feelings about what is going on. Provide abundant reassurance that the divorce is NOT about them. Keep the marital problems between the adults and don't use the children to vent frustrations.

Monday, December 7, 2009

CAGE Questionnaire

Have you ever wondered what questions to ask to determine if someone is having a problem with alcohol? These 4 questions are a good starting place to assess next steps to take for help. CAGE takes the first letter of certain words in each question to determine to spell out CAGE: 1) CUT down, 2) ANNOYED, 3) GUILTY, 4) EYE OPENER.
Please check the one response to each item that best describes how you have felt and behaved over your whole life.
1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
• Yes
• No

2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
• Yes
• No

3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
• Yes
• No

4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (eye-opener)?
• Yes
• No

Any question answered "YES" warrants additional assessment. Feel free to call if you have any questions or concerns.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Mantra

With all of the stresses inherent in this holiday season, it is important to remember to create a positive memory to carry with you the rest of your life. Some years ago I wrote an article regarding holiday stress and depression. Gayle reminded me of the most important concepts to keep in mind. She said, "the preparation for the holiday IS the holiday." Regardless of the past, you can create new positive memories for a pleasant, fun and memorable holiday season. So try this mantra; relax and have fun.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quote for the Day

"Action may not always be happiness, but there is no happiness without action." What action have you taken today toward your own happiness? I like the hummingbird as a prime example of going after the nectar for nurturance and fulfillment. Take a look within to find your sources of nurturance, fulfillment and life nectar.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Worry Can Sprial Out of Control

In Scientific American Mind, the Nov/Dec 2009 issue, Victoria Stern discusses "Why We Worry." Mostly, "people agonize about matters that rarely occur. Worriers nonetheless often report that they believe that overthinking about a possible negative event prevented it from taking place."

When your worry begins to spiral out of control, try the following:
1) Identify productive and unproductive worry.
2) Keep an appointment with your worry.
3) Learn to accept uncertainty.
4) Reframe your worry.
5) Put worries in perspective.

According to Stern, "fretting can tax the body and promote cardiovascular problems. Worry is associated wit an elevated resting heart rate and low heart rate variability." So in essence, worry is activating your fight or flight system, taxing your immune system and much more. In the next blog, we will discuss how to neutralize worry.

Practical Tips to Manage Stress

The key to stress management is life balance along with perception. If you think something is stress, then it is. Your beliefs about things determines their meaning to you. For example, It you believe you bring bad luck, then you will always be on the lookout for evidence of this belief. However, if you believe you can handle whatever comes your way, your will feel in control and manage stress better. Here are a few tips to consider;
1)Examine your priorities,
2) Maintain relationships with old friends that give you comfort(via phone, visiting or even facebook,
3) Limit your exposure to bad news. In other words, don't watch the news or watch shows that focus on only negative or horrific situations,
4) Exercise regularly. Yoga, walking, running, weight training or a martial art all help,
5) Have fun,
6) Get social,
7) Sleep well,
8) Challenge yourself to learn something new,
9) Volunteer in an area you find meaningful and
10) Don't sweat the small stuff.

Work on gratitude and find the good in what you do. Stress will become manageable. Travel to places you dream of so your dreams can come true.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Science of Happiness

Datcher Keltner has published a new book, "Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life." The new science of happiness can be cultivated in various ways. Some examples:
1) Experiences of reverence in nature or of being around those who are morally inspiring improves people's sense of connections to one another and their sense of purpose in life.
2) Meditating on a compassionate approach to others shifts resting brain activation to the left hemisphere, a region associated with happiness and boosts immune function.
3) Talking about what we are thankful for boost happiness, social well-being and health.
4) Devoting resources to others, rather than indulging in materialistic desire, brings about lasting well-being.

According to Keltner, "our capacity for caring, play, reverence and modesty is built into our brains, bodies, genes and social practices. Give some of these methods a try to see how these positive emotions cultivated affect your happiness quotient. Science is now proving our capacity for happiness.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Web 2.0 Presentation

Next Tuesday, October 13th, I will be conducting a presentation for the Employee Assistance Professions Association on: "Internet Secrets for Employee Assistance and Mental Health Professionals." This is a preview of a workshop I will be presenting with Marina London, LCSW and Web Editor for the International EAPA conference in Dallas on October 22nd. For more information, see the Houston Chapter website information at: or for details about the Dallas conference.

The presentation will cover Blogs, Twitter, Skype (or VOiP), Social Networking, YouTube, Videocasting, Podcasting and much more. Applications of Web 2.0 for business, employee assistance and mental health practitioners will explored.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gender Differences are Real!

In a book entitled, "Hot Monogamy" by Pat Love, she describes how men and women handle emotional vulnerability. Dr. Love sates that men are "hypersensitive to failure, embarrassment, shame and appearing weak. Men feel 'shame pain' to a greater degree than women and will shut down, pull away or get angry."

"Women, on the other hand, are hypersensitive to neglect, isolation, deprivation, silence and distance." The best way to improve any relationship is to respect those vulnerabilities and do your best to make your partner feel wanted, loved and adored.

According to Pat Love, the best way to keep passion alive is by knowing the other person, pay attention long enough to really get to know what their wants and needs are to feel loved. Just as you can see in this photo that only 10% of the iceberg is above the surface, most of our emotions are below the surface and need to be expressed to achieve true intimacy. One caveat, be gentle and respectful with expressing your feelings so as not to create more hurt, shame and distance. Enhance intimacy with loving kindness and passion can then flow.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Life Lessons from TED Talks

In a recent TED Talk, I saw a presentation by Stefan Sagmeister. He gave some very specific life lessons that I thought were worth passing on. Take the ones that apply or appeal to you. If you haven't explored TED Talks. I would highly recommend you do so.

Being not truthful works against me.
• Helping others helps me.
• Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.
• Everything I do always comes back to me.
• Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
• Over time, I get used to everything and start taking it for granted.
• Money does not make me happy.
• Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life.
• Assuming is stifling.
• Keeping a diary supports my personal development.
• Trying to look good limits my life.
• Worrying solves nothing.
• Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
• Having guts always works out for me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taking a sobering look at happy hour

Kim Morgan from The Houston Chronicle ran a story on Thursday about looking at the effects of alcohol on you. The authors suggests that if you have to drink alcohol to unwind, relax or take the edge off on a regular basis that, these are signs of a path from social drinker to someone who abuses alcohol. The important distinction is that it is NOT necessarily how much you drink, it is more about whether your drinking is causing a problem.

Take a few moments to ask yourself about the negative effects of alcohol in your life. Do you tend to be more irritable when having had a few? Fight more? Get depressed or moody? Have trouble sleeping, so you drink?

The definition and diagnosis of alcoholism has two distinct types. Someone can abuse alcohol and have a dependency. Alcohol abuse is periodic/excessive or binge drinking with an inability to stop.

Alcohol dependence is characterized by drinking on a daily basis and requiring alcohol to get through the day. I have done assessments of some people drinking anywhere from a pint a day starting first thing in the morning to a gallon of vodka a day to maintain their tolerance level.

In doing couple's counseling, we find that one of the most significant triggers of emotional or physical abuse is predominately associated with alcohol. The article states that a good test to determine your relationship to alcohol is to see how long you can go without alcohol. My belief is that "if your partner complains about your drinking", you have to take a look at your attitudes and behaviors related to use or abuse of alcohol and do something about it. Another risk factor is determined if you have a genetic predisposition. If you have a parent or grandparent that is alcoholic, you have five times higher risk than someone who has no addiction in the family.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why is it so difficult to quit smoking?

Nicotine is a powerful drug which promotes an addiction.

 \Quitting smoking is NOT a matter of will power, it is a matter of your tolerance training which strikes the pleasure centers of your brain within 6 seconds of lighting up. Saying good-bye to cigarettes is not easy. For most smokers, letting go of cigarettes is like letting go of a friend and companion. In addition, cigarettes neutralize feelings of anxiety, stress and boredom. Since researchers suggest that 1-pack a day smokers live “on the average” 8 years less than non-smokers, ask yourself how much you value your life, time and health. It is possible to quit with the right plan, resources, and support. Readiness to quit is the key.

You can quit and stay quit. It takes a plan, support and commitment.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mindfulness Perspective

“Mindfulness provides a simple but powerful route for getting ourselves unstuck, back into touch with our own wisdom and vitality. It is a way to take charge of the direction and quality of our own lives, including our relationships within the family, to work and to the world, and most fundamentally, my relationship with myself as a person.” Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Happiness: Recognize Your Choice

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control and some things are not. It is only after you have accepted this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and cannot control, that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.” Epictetus (50-183 AD)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Upcoming Stress $O$ Seminar

I will be returning to North Belt Office of Halliburton to present again on Stress $O$: How to Cope with Excess Worry.” 

This is a return engagement following the same presentation last March. I have been asked back to present the seminar again on August 26th presentation from 9:00 to 10:00am in the Patio Cafe.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hypnosis and Success Management Seminar

Don’t be held back by unconscious, false, self-limiting beliefs. This Saturday, Terry Devlin and myself will be presenting a 2 hour program consisting of an examination of the Law of Attraction and how to change your mind and change your outcomes. Attend this seminar for a first-hand experience of the power of hypnosis.
This seminar will help you:

Identify your success blockers and failure strategies
• Harness the power and energy of your unconscious
• Stay focused on your goals

Location: Four Oaks Place - office complex, main floor conference auditorium
1330 Post Oak, Houston
Schedule: 9:30 am – 12:00 noon, Saturday, August 8th
For reservations: e-mail – or call - 281-933 -2999.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Managing Stress

There is always time to review your life. A 5 minutes internal check will be a good monitor of how you are doing emotionally. The following points may help raise your awareness and promote stress management by:

Understanding and managing the impact of stress on you mentally and physically will increase longevity
• Creating a ‘sense of balance’ in your life will help you feel more in control
• Raising awareness of personal self-esteem will increase happiness
• Thinking positively changes your attitude
• Aligning and balancing your life help you feel better.

Taking stock of your sense of control of your life aligns with your ability to manage stress in your life. Do you need more sleep? Are you having having fun? What are you doing to promote health and wellness in your life? If you don't have good answers to these questions, it may be time to come in and talk about how to increase your self-esteem and balance your life.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Insomnia therapy: What works, what doesn't?

In these stressful times, nearly 30% of the U.S. population complains of disturbed sleep patterns, according to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation. And sales of sleep medications are on the rise — 56,287,000 prescriptions were dispensed last year, a 7% increase since 2007, data from IMS Health show.

The most successful treatment, according to a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association in May, is a combination of cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia and medication, but the long-term outcome is improved when medication is discontinued during treatment. Perlis says eight weeks of therapy shows benefits. As reported in USA Today by By Janice Lloyd. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) does work and help. You don't have to suffer or lose anymore sleep.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a state of focused concentration during which a person becomes less aware of his or her surroundings. Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis to treat physical or psychological conditions. Since 1958, the American Medical Association has recognized hypnotherapy as a valid medical treatment for certain conditions. During a hypnotic state, or trance, people may be more likely to accept suggestions that can help change their behavior. A therapist hypnotherapist) can lead the hypnosis, or he or she can teach people to hypnotize themselves (self-hypnosis). You can also learn self-hypnosis from books.
Hypnosis is not intended to cure disease but rather to relieve symptoms of illness. Hypnosis has been effective in relieving pain associated with surgery, paralysis, and childbirth. Also, it is widely used to control addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, and smoking. Hypnosis can reduce stress by increasing relaxation, offering positive suggestions, and eliminating negative thoughts.

Hypnosis can help with anxiety, insomnia, phobias, obesity, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. Research has also found that it can reduce cancer-related pain, labor pain, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases hypnosis is combined with cognitive therapy or other relaxation and behavioral techniques.

10 Steps to Happiness

Happiness comes to you as a result of making things happen in your life. Take a moment to review this list and see how you score.

1. Look for happiness
2. Celebrate good news
3. Be social
4. Rise and shine don’t rise and whine
5. Plan fun and leisure
6. Work to live, don’t live to work!
7. Smile and laugh a lot
8. Pay compliments to self and others
9. Show gratitude
10. Don’t postpone happiness

Engaging in these activities to raise your Happiness IQ.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

9 Steps to Staying Physically Fit

In an article by Amy Ozols from The New Yorker of Jan. 2009 issue, she proposes her foolproof system of staying trim. Take a moment to examine the steps that would help you be more fit and avoid weight gain.

1. Avoid "emotional eating"
2. Visualize yourself think.
3. Get rid of your "fat clothes"
4. Refrain from consuming food.
5. Surround yourself with thin people.
6. Drink plenty of water.
7. Buy a pet.
8. Exercise.
9. Build self-confidence.

Of course, this is what Amy proposes. In a nutshell, I would add the following to your strategy to remain fit. 1. monitor and moderate your consumption, 2. avoid the idea of deprivation, 3. focus on lifestyle change, not diet and 4. become mindful of enjoying simple pleasures. The obesity epidemic in American does not have to include you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Emotional Baggage

If you are still carrying around emotional baggage, it may be time for you to come in for a visit to free yourself up.

Psychological Hardiness

Understanding the following 3 principles will help determine your ability to cope with stress.

The 3 C’s of Psychological Hardiness
1. Control
2. Commitment
3. Challenge

Look at what you can control and let go of what you can’t control. If you are committed to a plan of action, you are more likely to succeed. Lastly, challenge yourself you learn, grow, and increase your self-esteem.

I discovered I always have choices, and sometimes it’s only a choice of attitude. “

--Judith M. Knowlton

Building Hardiness:

Have a written life blueprint.
• Take your emotional pulse regularly.
• Think positive!
• Check your toolbox.
• Take time to laugh.
• Build your support network.
• Take time to relax and do nothing (without guilt!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Mindfulness provides a simple but powerful route for getting ourselves unstuck, back into touch with our own wisdom and vitality. It is a way to take charge of the direction and quality of our own lives, including our relationships within the family, to work and to the world, and most fundamentally, my relationship with myself as a person.” Jon Kabat-Zinn. Work on your own happiness and mindfulness by utilizing some of the tools listed below.

Required Life Tools

How to say “No”
• Deal with conflict
• Express feelings
• Ask for help
• Eat enough fruits and vegetables
• Exercise
• Relax
• Play
• Build relationships
• Reach out to others
• Remain social
• Practice moderation
• Focus on positive thoughts
• Forgive

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Developing Psychological Resiliency

Resilience is the ability to return to the original state or form after being stretched, compressed or bent.
It is the ability to recover from adversity. It means buoyancy; elasticity. Needless to say, developing resilience is a highly desirable quality in today’s ever-changing world.
Becoming more resilient may be the key to surviving the new workplace. In his book Resilience: A Change for the Better, Daryl R. Conner outlines five characteristics of resilient people. They are:

• Focused
• Flexible
• Organized
• Proactive

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happiness Formula

Recognize Your Choice

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control and some things are not. It is only after you have accepted this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and cannot control, that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.” Epictetus (50-183 AD) Martin Seligman wrote a book on enduring happiness. One of his findings was the following formula.

Positive Emotions (Pleasure) + Engagement Gratification) + Meaning (Sense of Value) = Happiness

Take some time today to examine if you are seeking happiness with this formula or expecting happiness to arrive at your door.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Graduation & Celebration

This is a wonderful time of the year. With students graduating to a new grade, school or phase of life, they deserve recognition. If you have a friend, neighbor, relative, family member graduating, take time to celebrate and honor them with a card, call or visit. Graduations are joyous transitions that should be cherished. However, graduation can also be a bittersweet time. Leaving familiarity, friends and going to the unknown can be scary and intimidating.

Provide encouragement whenever possible to explore the next phases of life. You may also want to reflect on some of your life graduations. Having done some reflection, ask yourself what kind of emotional support or advice you would have liked. Embrace the excitement and fear that accompanies change. Let these graduates know how you feel about them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Don't Get Stressed by the Hype on the Flu!

If you watch the news, you may become overwhelmed by the reports about the Swine, Mexico, or H1N1 flu virus reports. If you follow the stories, you will find that much of the "pandemic" talk is being sensationalized. In fact, now many of the reports of cases of flu reported in the news are now being retracted as "not the flu." Take normal precautions to protect yourself, but the most important precaution is not watching too much television! Get good rest, wash your hands frequently and be alert to your surroundings.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu Worries

If you have questions about the current Swine Flu situation, please take a moment to ready what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has to say.

Swine Influenza and You
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

How does swine flu spread?

Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care. In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting

Friday, April 24, 2009

8 Hours to a lifetime of relationship satisfaction

Dr. Gayle Klaybor gave a workshop on April 25 for the MS Society. This intensive workshop focused on practical skills for enhancing communication in a marriage, teaching listening skills, and providing a forum for couples to explore how to improve their marriages. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system CNS:the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The damage caused by MS creates lesions or "scars" that can be seen on your brain and spinal cord. The process of developing lesions is called "sclerosis." So, MS actually means "many scars."

Who gets MS?

* 2.5 million people around the world have MS
* Approximately 400,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with MS
* More than twice as many women as men have MS
* Most people are aged between 20 and 50 years when they are diagnosed with MS
* MS is more common in people of Northern European descent, but anyone can get MS


1. Balance

Your spouse may not fully understand what is like to have multiple sclerosis, but the major life changes involved affect you both. While you bear the physical brunt of MS, you both have to deal with the emotional toll, the financial impact, and role changes. My own life changed with such great speed that my head is still spinning five years later. I try to never lose sight of the fact that Jake was every bit as blindsided as I was.

2. Communication

Unless he is so fortunate as to possess telepathic abilities, he is not a mind reader. Make the effort to share your deepest thoughts and feelings with him. If you are experiencing depression or fatigue, and you don't tell him, he just may miss the signs. If you need extra assistance... ask. We can't expect our loved ones to get inside our heads and accommodate for our needs on their own. We've got to communicate with them.

3. Understanding

MS is a huge issue in both your lives, but it is not the only issue. Don't forget to ask him how his day is going and how he's feeling. Take the time to find out what's on his mind today... besides MS. Show that you care about his hope and fears. Don't assume he knows.

4. Appreciation

Don't fall into the trap of taking him for granted. Just because he always does the grocery shopping, doesn't mean that you shouldn't tell him how much you appreciate it once in awhile. We tend to dispense with the niceties with the people we love the most. That's a mistake.

5. Romance

Romance is good for the soul. Without it, you might as well just be roomates. Under no circumstances should you let romance slide. MS can make things more difficult, but there's no reason to let it take the romance, too. Cuddle up on the sofa together... light some candles... play soft music... you know where to go from there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Seminar for Disability 101

On April 11th, I will be giving a talk to Disability 101. Disability 101 is a 501(c)(3), Texas Non-Profit Corporation dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with disabling medical conditions and their families, by reducing the emotional, social and vocational impact of illness. They accomplish this by providing educational programs to help those affected by disability to cope with every day life. They also collaborate with other organizations to develop programs and train their staff or volunteers and pursue our mission by raising awareness of the psychosocial needs of medical patients among physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, and mental health professionals.11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. THE UNITED WAY 50 Waugh Drive, Houston TX

A light lunch & refreshments will be served.

Check out their website:

My topic is: Health Attitudes: The Power of Positive Thinking on Health. The program starts at 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the United Way Building. 50 Waugh Drive, Houston TX

A light lunch & refreshments will be served.

I hope to see you there. Dr. Mike

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Are you in an emotional or physically abuse relationship?

From a Dr. Phil show recently, there were several good points made on what to look for to recognize if you are in an abusive relationship. Take a moment to review the following points to understand the characteristics.

Does your partner continuously degrade or belittle you? If you think that just because you aren't being physically abused nothing is wrong, think again. If you find these conditions are present, seek help. Call us at 713-621-2490.

• Using economic power to control you

• Threatening to leave

• Making you afraid by using looks, gestures or actions

• Smashing things

• Controlling you through minimizing, denying and blaming

• Making light of the abuse and not taking your concerns about it seriously

• Continually criticizing you, calling you names, shouting at you

• Emotionally degrading you in private, but acting charming in public

• Humiliating you in private or public

• Withholding approval, appreciation or affection as punishment

Results of Verbal and Emotional Abuse, from the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness:
• A distrust of her spontaneity
• A loss of enthusiasm
• An uncertainty about how she is coming across
• A concern that something is wrong with her
• An inclination to reviewing incidents with the hopes of determining what went wrong
• A loss of self-confidence
• A growing self-doubt
• An internalized critical voice
• A concern that she isn’t happier and ought to be
• An anxiety or fear of being crazy
• A sense that time is passing and she’s missing something
• A desire not to be the way she is, e.g. “too sensitive,” etc.
• A hesitancy to accept her perceptions
• A reluctance to come to conclusions
• A tendency to live in the future, e.g. “Everything will be great when/after …”
• A desire to escape or run away
• A distrust of future relationships

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Change Mastery

This week I gave two seminars to different corporations. At Halliburton, I gave on talk on $O$ for Stress: How to stop worrying about the economy and everything else. About 85 employes attended. Basically, the message was to develop life balance, reduce negative self-talk, exercise, communicate with family and friends to keep manage stress. Did you know that 80% of all visits to family doctors are for stress related disorders and problems? Reducing worry requires diligence in focusing on what you can control and letting go of thoughts and worries that never come true anyway. The other talk was for Aetna Insurance on Change Mastery. This talk had to do with overcoming fear of change, procrastination and perfectionism. Looking at your denial about change, expectations and acceptance helps you understand your resistance or ability to adapt. In essence, the more you embrace change, remain optimistic, and work proactively, the more "psychologically hardy" you become.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


During these very difficult economic times, it is difficult to maintain life balance. To do so requires making some adjustments. To stay strong requires resilience. So what is resilience?

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

Resilient people…...
Recognize their interdependence with others
• Have strong social bonds that they can rely on
• Are able to form and maintain close relationships
• Recognize ways in which other people’s skills can complement their own.
• Bounce back from adversity

So, work on the aspects of your life that will help you keep your balance and increase resilience.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Remaking Yourself

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending an inspirational lecture by Larry Wilmore at the Wortham through the Progressive Forum Lecture Series. Larry Willmore just completed a book entitled, "I'd Rather We Got Casinos and Other Black Thoughts." Larry is a regular member of the cast of the Daily Show. He role is as th Senior Black Correspondent.

What impressed me about Larry Wilmore was his willingness to take risks to find his true voice and remain true to himself. His resume includes a career standup comedy, acting, writing for comedy shows (Bernie Mac Show, The Office, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and In Living Color). Even though has achieved success and obtained very prestigious awards including an Emmy and Peabody Award, he has pushed himself into new areas of learning constantly.

What have you done to challenge yourself lately? Where do you need to go to be inspired? When will you get started to pursue your true self?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Procrastination and Perfectionism

Two weeks ago, I gave a presentation to the faculty of MD Anderson Cancer Center. About 100 faculty members were in attendance. Below are a few of the highlights of the presentation.

The source or a great deal of suffering in life is found in these two concepts; procrastination and perfectionism. If you put things off and spend time in avoidance, you are escalating your suffering. Of course, you may feel the glory of waiting to the last minute and then have a last minute rally and get a euphoric boost of crossing the finish line. On one hand, you end up celebrating getting something done, but on the other hand, you have just reinforced your procrastination cycle.

The final blow is perfectionism. If you need everything perfect, it is hard to even get started on a project. Perfectionists never know when something is "good enough." So, what do you do?

Just get started. Break things down into workable components and eventually, you will get more done and release yourself from suffering and guilt. Then, spend time validating your efforts to psychologically reward yourself. So, go get started right now! Value your work and do your best. Dr. Mike

How to deal with these difficult economic times

If you are worried about what is happening with the economy, take a moment to review these ideas to help you cope and put things into perspective.

First and foremost, create or access a supportive environment of family, friends, and religious and spiritual affiliations. Talk to those who know you and love you. You can better withstand stress than if you are alone.
  • Be grateful for all that you have. Express gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Meditate. It's a great natural relaxing method that puts the brakes on speeding stress hormones. There are many different forms of meditation, and, of course, prayer. Yoga and Tai-Chi are effective as well. Find something that works for you and do it regularly.
  • Stress erodes health in many ways, major and minor.
  • Exercise. A brisk walk or workout takes your mind off problems.
  • Play with a pet or a grandchild.
  • Be available to others. We are all in this boat together.
  • Finally, put things into perspective: "Don't sweat the small stuff because it is all small stuff."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Website

We have decided to take a leap and modernize our website and features. Our goal was to make it really user friendly, be attractive, and provide the information you need to make a decision about beginning psychotherapy, learning about us or gaining understanding about the process. Let us know what you think. On this new site, you can securely register online and get a customized google map from your location to our office. 


Friday, January 16, 2009

New Year and Happiness

It is time to think about how to bring more happiness into your life. The American Psychological Association has proposed the following happiness formula. 

Purpose + Pleasure + Engagement = Happiness

Take a moment to reflect on how whether you are living a life with purpose that gives you pleasure and creates engagement. If not, it is time to look inside to make some adjustments. Happiness should be a byproduct of a wonderful life, not a goal.

Why Worry? Recently, a reprint of the book  Why Worry  by friend and prolific author, Eric A. Kimmel was recently released. Gayle and ...