The Amygdala Hijack

The amygdala is an almond shaped mass of nuclei (mass of cells) located deep within the temporal lobes of the brain. The amygdala hijack is an immediate, overwhelming emotional response with a later realization that the response was inappropriately strong given the trigger. Daniel Goleman coined the term amygdala hijack based on the work of neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, which demonstrated that some emotional information travels directly from the thalamus to the amygdala without engaging the neocortex, or higher brain regions. This causes a strong emotional response that precedes more rational thought. The amygdala hijack basically equates to “freaking out” or seriously overreacting to an event in your life. You want to tell your partner how you are feeling, but you are anxious. The prosody of your voice– tone, rhythm, pitch, may communicate annoyance, anger. Your body language may appear to be aggressive, you lean forward, squint, make your hands into fists. You do not mean to be aggressive, but your partner reacts, not to your words, but to what appears to be a threat You instantly perceive your partner as aggressive. Your immediate, unconscious reaction, by way of the amygdala, is fight, flight or freeze. The amygdala screams danger and the thinking part of your brain goes off-line. You respond with an overwhelming emotional reaction, which triggers your partner’s amygdala.   Congratulations you and your partner are now dancing the primitive, amygdala...

If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent – John Pavlovitz

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children. I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often. Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe. Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church. Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity. For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now… 1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it. My children won’t be our family’s best-kept secret. I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most gay kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues. If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family. 2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them....

Shaping Love a Seminal-Study by Dr Sue Johnson

Source: drsuejohnson.com Any researcher knows that, if you aspire to be an ‘objective’ scientist, you are not allowed to be passionately impressed by your own research. I am now going to break that rule. It seems appropriate at the beginning of a New Year that my lab has just put out a new and rip roaring, cutting edge study (you can see it in early view in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy). This study is 25 years in the making and shows that we can now do something seemingly impossible – something that will speak to everyone who ever said to themselves, “Well what is all this love and romance stuff anyway and how does it work?” Which is pretty much everyone!   …Continue Reading  ...
Gratitude Generates Greater Happiness

Gratitude Generates Greater Happiness

The holiday season creates expectations for a festive and loving gathering with family and friends. Yet it’s often met with undue stress, disappointment, anxiety or depression. Maybe it’s fortuitous that Thanksgiving kicks off the season. We’re expected to be grateful. If this attitude of gratitude were adapted into our daily lives, might it bring greater happiness? As a psychotherapist, I often work with people suffering from anxiety or depression. One of my first tasks is to create a safe enough environment for the person to trust me enough to decrease the negative rumination. As they move away from their inner doubts and fears they’re able to view life more realistically. They eventually discover that there is much to be thankful for. Gratitude is defined as the feeling or quality of being grateful. It is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. They recognize that many times the source of that goodness lies outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power. UC Riverside professor, Sonja Lyubomirsky, says in her book, The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, that “Gratitude is many things to many people. It is wonder, appreciation, looking on the bright side of a setback. It is fathoming abundance, thanking someone in your life, thanking God and ‘counting blessings.’ It is coping, present-oriented and not taking things for granted.” Her research demonstrates that “expressing gratitude has several benefits. People...

Working Together Strengthens Family Bonds

We’re in the middle of summer now, and you’ve likely had the children home for a good three weeks. Are you having the best summer ever? Or have you begun counting down the days to when they go back to school? In order for all of us to enjoy the summer it’s important that we pull together, divide the daily household workload, be considerate of one another’s commitments and celebrate life daily together. Including children in daily responsibilities teaches them realistic life lessons. Consider the following: 1. Give your children household chores. Chores given at an early age helps children build a lasting sense of mastery, responsibility and self-reliance. It also teaches them how to be empathetic and responsive to others’ needs. Richard Rende, a developmental psychologist says “Parents today want their kids spending time on things that can bring them success. But ironically, we’ve stopped doing one thing that’s actually been a proven predictor of success—and that’s household chores.” Chores, when done in the spirit of cooperation strengthens family cohesion. 2. Create a schedule. Children feel more secure when they know what to expect from day to day. Similar to a teacher, in order for the day to run smoothly, teachers have a daily lesson plan. At home the structure may be – children get up at a reasonable time,  help in preparing breakfast, cleaning up the living areas, then playing outdoors. Reading, indoor activity and lunch followed by quiet time / nap time. Also, make time to play and structure time to chill and relax. 3. Help your children develop a healthy relationship with time. Manage down-time...