"Oh Lord, help me to be pure,
just not yet ."
Be Happy In Your Own Way
by Dr. Terry Martin (aka Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne January 25, 2021
“All Happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy
Judging by the volume of smartphone selfies circulated each day you’d think we live in a world of happy families. Happiness has become an unhealthy obsession. And you have to wonder, are people willing to fake it?
Happiness is not a veneer or something you get. It’s something you are, and you must give in order to find true happiness. When patients say they are unhappy or bored, afraid, anxious or miserable, what they are really saying is, “I want to be happy.”
When you look at selfies from friends, family and even celebrities smiling up a storm how do you feel? Sure you are happy for them for a moment, but do you they make you feel sad about your own life? Are you failing in your happiness?
The face people put on in public isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of their true feelings and character.
Facebook is loaded with cheerful faces. That doesn’t mean they’re happy. In fact, some may be camouflaging their sadness.
The Temptations hit song, My Smile is Just a Frown Turned Upside Down describes the feeling:
If you should see me and I'm smiling,
Don't think my smile is for real,
No expression could explain,
How much my heart's in pain.
True satisfaction and contentment in life involves regular ups and downs. If you focus on trying to be 100 percent happy all the time, the goal you are chasing is unattainable. Eventually you will be left disappointed and disillusioned.
Why chase perpetual happiness? Instead focus on helping others and building your career. Be the best friend, partner and parent that you can be.
Follow authentic pathways and lead a life of fulfillment.
Be Happy, in your own way.
• • •
Editing Your Life
by Dr. Terry Martin (aka Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne January 18, 2021
Our lives are like an ongoing movie script over which we have complete, creative control. We possess an innate power to take stock of our lives and decide what works and doesn't work. Just like in the movies, editing is an important part of leading a more productive, effective life.
You can accept your script as written, or create a life that is more satisfying by disassociating yourself from things that bug you or hold you back. The editing process can be empowering.
Editing one’s life isn't easy, it’s not like erasing a line of text. Change is difficult, even painful, especially when you carry emotional baggage, are stuck in an unhealthy relationship or miss deadlines at work. Editing means finding a way to say no with grace and eliminating what isn't working so you will feel lighter and more alive.
Start by finding out a lot about yourself. What were your positive and negative experiences? Which parts of your life no longer serve you well? Commit to removing them.
What gives you profound bliss and matters most? Who lifts you up, supports and loves you? Spend more time with them.
Build on satisfying experiences and beliefs. Edit out stressful activities, trim back commitments, disassociate yourself from energy draining people.
Make beneficial cuts. Subtract so you can add. For every cut you make add a new positive experience, task or belief. As you make changes, choose more intimate, healthier relationships.
Seek out new adventure over tedium so you will no longer be negatively impacted by old experiences.
Simply said, make room in your life for enjoyment, love, and wisdom.
My patients ask if there is a special time or proper way to edit their life? I tell them, “Not really. When you are clear with your goals and ready to commit with patience and compassion, you will know you are eligible to be happy.”
• • •
By Dr. Terry Martin (aka Monday Lisa( and Bob Cayne 1/11/2021
The great philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote: “It takes two to speak the truth––one to speak and another to hear.”
Many people are interesting, even accomplished speakers, but poor listeners. The truth is, (and that is what this column is about), too many of us are marginal listeners.
Those who are successful, both personally and in business, work hard to hear the truth. Why? Because the truth may be whispered or hinted at.
It is not unusual for patients to have challenges because they need to improve the way they communicate. I tell them, “Listen better, listen smarter, and listen more often.” Giving and exchanging information is what leads to identifying real issues, and seeing them sooner.
A few things to consider:
If you want to learn something new, stop talking. In the wise words of the Dalai Lama, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
This is true and particularly applies to patients who feel stuck in their lives. If you are a boss chances are you won’t be interrupted in a meeting, but when you stop talking, watch someone fill the silence—with what you need to know.
Imagine a meeting where everyone except the boss knows a pertinent and important fact that doesn’t surface because the boss drones on and on. If people can’t get a word in crosswise, edgewise or other wise, they stop listening. Ditto if they keep looking at their watch. They aren’t interested in adding to the meeting’s length.
Short meetings are effective meetings. Fill them with pauses and listen. Allow pertinent feedback to emerge.
Questions raised by those in attendance indicate their interest in learning. Show respect for the insights offered by others. Allow time for answers and listen to them.
Avoid asking questions that prove how smart you are, only ask probing questions that indicate your interest and uncertainty.
It’s easy, even comfortable, to listen to voices that sound like our own, but the best listeners appreciate a chorus of voices.
In short, be a better listener if you want to hear the truth. Otherwise, you’ll hear it sometime later and from an unwanted source.
• • •
Reframing Your Mind
by Dr. Terry Martin (aka Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne January 4, 2021
The human mind is fascinating. We are born with an intuitive way to communicate with others––our minds create word pictures, implied comparisons that flow naturally as we think, speak, dream and even sing.
We are metaphorical in the way we think, “I sleep with my socks on, like a fireman waiting for the next alarm,” is an example. We also liken one thing to another: “this potato is hard as a rock,” or “the executive suite is filled with button-down collars.”
In each case we give someone a new frame of reference. Taking one pattern that fits another broadens their knowledge and increases their understanding.
A metaphor acts as a new pattern that mirrors the pattern of a person’s train of thought. It also has a beneficial element or a solution within it. When we communicate the new pattern, we avoid rejection by the person’s analytical side.
The process is called reframing.
A patient who feels hopeless about panic attacks, may find it helpful to be given an analogy that their fight-or-flight response is like a smoke detector that is supposed to go off to alert them that something is on fire, but is so sensitive that it starts squawking when they fry an egg. Instead of going off when it’s genuinely needed, it keeps going off unnecessarily. The smoke detector is supposed to alert us when the joint is on fire, but it doesn’t need to go off every time we make breakfast.
The panic-attack/smoke alarm analogy presents the panic attack as a useful response, but one that needs to be reset so that it only goes off under the right circumstances. It reframes both the patient’s anxious feelings and their perceived helplessness. Their panic is characterized as a reaction rather than an illness, and hopefully, repairing the over-sensitive smoke detector will stop the unnecessary panic attacks.
By presenting a metaphor or analogy pattern, rather than spelling things out, I leave it to the patient to make the connection. Sometimes the way they absorb the reframing is a conscious one; sometimes it is unconscious. Whichever it may be, it is far more powerful and more likely to change their behavior when they make the connection by themselves.
For homework, think about all the metaphors you use each day. I bet you’ll be cackling like a rooster.
• • •
Enjoying Life’s Pleasures
by Dr. Terry Martin (aka Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne 12/28/2020
They say a million tiny pin-pricks can bring down a mighty giant. Similarly, the cumulative effect of many small stresses can result in serious depression and despondency. It doesn’t take a major catastrophe.
We are led to believe that therapy for depression and anxiety focuses on lots of deep stuff––you know, awful childhood trauma, terrible personal issues, that sort of thing––thanks to the maligned Hollywood and Netflix versions of what being in therapy is all about.
Deep stuff aside, the loss of healthy daily pleasures can be the cause and result of depression. Enjoying at least a few of life’s pleasures is vital for your physical and mental health.
Life isn’t just about enjoyment. It’s not just about any one thing. A slow slide into depression brought about by a blend of one’s personal psychology and different stresses is frequently accompanied by several losses.
They aren’t necessarily dramatic Hollywood losses, they can be small, and not terribly important by themselves. Simple pleasures like not seeing friends, not working, shopping or going to a movie. Not listening to music, going for a walk, having colleagues to talk to, knowing your partner doesn’t respect you, feeling unloved by those you love. While these are not small losses, they are systematic and insidious. As our sources of enjoyment diminish or disappear, they steadily, perhaps unnoticeably chip away at our resilience.
I help patients overcome minor stresses, as well as major ones, by encouraging them to regain lost pleasures into their lives.
That is not to say gross pleasures, the kind that are grabbed, forced and greedily consumed, but pleasures you savor as a reward for making the effort and behaving appropriately.
Frankly, something is fundamentally wrong with the way society handles emotional health. There are things we've improved on, but in many ways, we've lost compassion and common sense when it comes to human suffering. I don't like seeing people as an illness, or a list of symptoms to be ticked off before they can be categorized.
Maybe, just maybe, a good New Year’s resolution would be to spend more time with people who love, respect and offer you healthy pleasures. You might discover that enjoyment is a meaningful part of good mental health and physical wellness.
• • •
by Dr. Terry Martin (aka Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne December 21, 2020
Psychologists focus primarily on diagnosing and treating people who have mental health problems and psychopathological issues.
Not long ago a patient told me, “We laugh a lot in session. I thought I’d be bawling my eyes out.” We both laughed at the remark. That was a testament to practicing positive psychology. Yes, we do have our light moments, but not to the exclusion of tears when we discuss tough issues.
Positive psychology is solution-focused. It is not merely corrective and limited to offering solutions when something goes downhill.
I feel it is more important to find realistic solutions than to analyze problems extensively, and patients agree. We discuss ways to not only solve issues but to solve them as soon as possible. We do not dwell on every detail. We work to improve what is already there and work at cultivating inner strengths so that current issues have less of an impact on the future. I find the process offers quicker relief from negative symptoms.
Interestingly, the process applies to a wide-range of difficulties patients face as well as the impact on their lives. I rely heavily on patients being motivated to address the issues that disrupt their quality of life.
As a rule, people find themselves stuck in patterns that become ‘business as usual’ so they try to cope with them rather than seeking psychological help. Once the patterns are evaluated and modified they begin to change their behavior. The key is the patients must want to change.
Positive psychology is not a remedy for problems. By building our inner strength we become aware of our capabilities. The process helps us see and think positively. That makes life more worthwhile and fulfilling.