Roswell Therapist Steven D Brand LSW, MSW recently took a trip to Africa this past March 2016. Steve’s mission was to share with the people in several churches of Africa, various tools that could strengthen their relationships and individual mental health.
1) Why did you take the trip? What were you hoping to accomplish?
To teach, preach and counsel with members of the Accra, Ghana churches. My goal was to give to the extent that when we got back on the plane to Atlanta, we would be exhausted. We succeeded.
2. Did you meet your goals? How?
Yes, we did a lot of marriage counseling, taught staff and regional leaders. On one combined midweek service, we presented a couples workshop. I also taught a personal mental health seminar. Finally, I preached at a Sunday service. The ministers gave us their most challenging marriage scenarios to counsel. My wife and I gave and gave until we were spent.
3. What was the most surprising thing about the trip that you didn’t expect to happen?
There was a palpable hunger and thirst for our unique perspective. The response of the people was overwhelmingly positive and grateful. We were meeting massive unmet needs with skills that other typical out of town guests just didn’t have to offer.
4. What mindset should people have when visiting Africa? What mindset should people not have when visiting?
Go to give, serve & work. Don’t judge Africa by Western standards.
5. Summarize people’s responses to your visit.
Gratitude. Move here. Come back as soon as possible.
6. Will you return? And if so what will you do differently?
We will go back, maybe to live; but at the very least 2-3x per year.
Certainly next time we will have multiple appointments with folks, for maximum impact and change.
We Rise By Lifting Others Up and the Science of Happiness
Did you know giving is good for you?
A 2006 study by J. Moll at the National Institute for Health found that when people give to charities it lights up the brain in regions associated with pleasure, creating a “warm glow” effect.
We have known for quite a while that exercising is good for you and creates positive chemical changes in the brain. It’s encouraging to have hard data that altruistic behavior also has a similar effect. The old adage of helping others and you help yourself is scientific truth!
People can find happiness and STAY happy if they create the right mental playing field. It has become a goal of mine in my practice of helping others to achieve this state. Helping others can be one way to get there. We all have our gifts. If you use your talents to help others you would be surprised at all the benefits you get back.
Conversely being in a state of negativity begets more negativity
Neural pathways are created and then strengthened by repetition; emotionally the result is an inclination of our resting mental state.
Author of Psych Pedia, Steven Parton explains how these closer synapses result in a generally more pessimistic outlook: “Through repetition of thought, you’ve brought the pair of synapses that represent your [negative] proclivities closer and closer together, and when the moment arises for you to form a thought…the thought that wins is the one that has less distance to travel, the one that will create a bridge between synapses fastest.” Gloom soon outraces positivity.
Anger, in a way can become a sickness, a brooding, a drug of the mind. I encourage my clients to work at reducing their anger and negativity. The more you work at it, the more happy thoughts you have, naturally.
“Life is Painful, Suffering is Optional”
We all have our devastating challenges, death, divorce, separations, diseases, and addictions; being human we are all subjected to such events. However the mind is a powerful tool that we can use for own good.
There is joy in lifting others up. I encourage you to think deeply on this. When you are open to helping others I have seen time and time again, providently provided, the right tool for the right job suddenly at your disposal.
Currently I am on trips to serve in Africa and Virginia. Traveling is naturally tiring in some respects, but it fuels me up as I am encouraged seeing others experience growth.
So for today, I encourage you think about what you could do to help others. And then go ahead and do it.
Steve Brand, LCSW, ACSW, MSW/MPH, PC
Steven D. Brand – Psychotherapy Atlanta / Roswell GA
981 Canton Street
Building 12, Suite 215
Roswell, GA 30075
Understanding Narcissistic Rage
“Narcissistic rage is a reaction to narcissistic injury, which is a perceived threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth. Narcissistic injury (or narcissistic scar) is a phrase used by Sigmund Freud in the 1920s; The term narcissistic rage was coined by Heinz Kohut in 1972.” -Wikipedia
What triggers Narcissistic Rage?
Lack of admiration or respect. If a Narcissist feels disrespected, then his/her entire sense of being feels called into question. For example not being included in a discussion can set him or her off, or even a disapproving look. For many though the answer is not obvious and to spend hours of time investigating the cause is not worth it, it ends up being another trap of letting the Narcissist be the center of attention.
How Does the Rage Appear?
It can be an angry glare, it can be a raising of the voice, it can be a physical throwing of objects. It can also be subtle and passive aggressive. The response of anger in general is not wrong, it can be warranted, but with a narcissist it is usually one sided and completely out of proportion to what the situation calls for.
Once the rage passes, is it over?
No, anger can be continual like a low or medium boil. Oddly, the release of anger doesn’t make the narcissist feel relieved, in many cases, it becomes a fuel which perpetuates more outbursts.
Can Narcissistic rage be defused?
If you are dealing with a narcissist, the best thing you can do is to walk gently away and no longer give an audience to it. Detachment with love can be a coping mechanism for those who have to deal with narcissists. Engaging with the rage in most circumstances does not work. Expressing sadness or pleading doesn’t work either. In fact for a narcissist that is more fuel for them because the response of begging means more power has been won. The best way to deal with the situation is to be aware when it is starting to happen, accept that it is happening and that you can’t control it and finally take action for yourself, even if that action is just giving some distance for a time.
Steven D. Brand has over 25,000 clinical hours working with individuals and couples. He travels around the United States for conferences on recovery, marriage therapy, and counseling. His home office is in Historic Downtown Roswell.
You have a few hours left of 2015 to reflect upon the year you’ve had. If you are like most people, it has some good, some bad, some ups and some downs. Before 2016 has time to take off like a bullet, I suggest you take a minute to relax and think about how to make this upcoming year better.
‘Mindfulness’ was my word for 2015. For 2016, it’s ‘Affirmations’.
“You will always feel what you dwell on.”
In the book The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry he discusses how your emotional life dictates your day to day.
“Whatever you dwell upon becomes increasingly prominent in your own mind.”
It’s called the Law of Attention, according to Newberry. For example, the more attention you give your health, it gets better. The more attention you focus on your spouse, the closer your relationship will become.
Executive Coaching practice, I have seen progress when using the tool of mentoring because the focus is placed squarely on the person. It’s the Law of Attention. Coaching is not a simple recipe; it’s a whole mind approach, yes there is homework. Having someone to walk beside you and lift you up is invaluable. Yes, you can do this. It’s affirmation.
“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2
The link between depression and ruminating on negative thoughts is documented. That is why using affirmations is a way to heal and excel.
Here are a few positive affirmations for every day, find your favorites and tape them to your bathroom mirror.
Today I will be happy.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I have a purpose.
I have the power within to affect today for my good and others.
I am divinely guided and will make right decisions for my life and business.
I am successful and will continue to attract success to me.
I am courageous, and I will make good choices.
Today I will visualize my future goals and imagine myself achieving them.
I hope this has helped you formulate your resolutions. If you are ready to grow your business and make 2016 the best year ever, let’s have a conversation.
Steven D. Brand
Roswell Therapist and Executive Coach
Are you a business professional? Visit Steven’s new site dedicated to executive coaching for Atlanta business professionals.
You’ve heard the adage you are what you eat.
I say you are what you think.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a communication pathologist, and audiologist who has worked in the area of cognitive neuroscience since 1985 suggests that a positive mindset creates happiness. Your thoughts of today can change your future.
- Laughter is a Necessity Not a Luxury
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? Did you know laughing floods the body of chemicals, boosts the immune system and almost instantly, reduces levels of stress hormones?
“A magnificent belly laugh can make cortisol drop by 39%, adrenalin by 70% and the “feel-good hormone,” endorphin, increase by 29%.
2. Recall Positive Memories Daily
Recalling experiences that were positive is a good way to condition the brain. Did you know the body actually releases the same endorphins as when the experience actually occurred? That is how powerful our brain is and shows what a strong link there is to our nervous system. Creating a positive mindset is good for you and it’s biblical.
‘A cheerful heart is good medicine.’ Proverbs 17:22
On the flipside of this, you can deduce what recalling negative memories over and over can do. Dr. Leaf research shows that today’s illnesses directly correlate to the flow our “thought life”.
3. Create New Positive Memories
Go outside! Go for a walk with your spouse. Meet a friend during lunch. Simply get out there. Don’t let the “negative nellies” run your show. You have choices in every situation.
Your brain is like a bank or ATM. What you deposit into your brain bank is all that you will be able to withdraw. Makes you re-think what you are watching or listening to!
Dr. Leaf believes, and I agree with her, that by changing your thought process to a more positive internal dialogue can create huge changes in your day to day life and future. She believes with careful mind detoxing, you can get your healthy brain cells back.
“We can not control outside circumstances, but we can control our reaction to it. Toxic thoughts like doubt, unbelief, fear, anger- changes our brain and it causes us to become something that will require an act of God for healing. That is where detoxing comes in.”
For today, I encourage you to choose joy and if you want to make some significant strides in this area, choose a friend or counselor to get on the path. It’s about daily choices. It’s about recognizing the old worn negative tracks and finding new ones.
Thanks for reading.
Steven D Brand, LSW is a therapist serving Roswell. He works with couples, individuals and also executives in coaching environments.
Smoking 25 Cigarettes a Day is as Harmful as Loneliness?
On the eve of my Mancation with some of friends of mine, a 7-day Timeless Trekker backpacking journey in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. I wanted to delve into how same sex friendships enhance mental and physical health. I believe that these friendships take “pressure” off the marriage to be “everything” because friends are meeting some of the social, psychological and spiritual needs.
Humans have been naturally social for thousands of years. Yet modern life has reduced the level of interaction between male friends in quality and quantity.
In the UK, according to a recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation, “10% of people often feel lonely, a third have a close friend or relative who they think is very lonely, and half think that people are getting lonelier in general.”
Massachusetts professors Olds and Schwartz in their writing, The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century explains there is a current focus among adult men to build stronger marriages at the expense of other social connections. They point to a current tendency among adults to build stronger, more intimate marriages at the expense of almost all other social connections, (and) they observed a deep sense of loneliness. “Almost every father we spoke with explained that he had lost contact with most of his male friends,” they write. And lest you believe family is company enough, the 2005 Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging showed that family relationships have almost no impact on longevity. Friendships, by contrast, boosted life span as much as 22 percent.
Good friends are good for your health!
In 1988 a review of five studies showed that loneliness can be linked to an earlier death, “…people with fewer social relationships die earlier on average than those with more social relationships”
Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, in a study sponsored by Guinness, learned that to maintain a healthy level of interaction, men should hang out with other men, once or twice a week.
The report says that men, who maintain social groups are healthier, recover from illness more quickly and tend to be more generous. Despite the findings, two out of five men claim they manage to meet their friends only once a week and a further third struggle to catch up that frequently. Why is this?
Worldwide, the loneliest men are white American men. Is it because male friends are more acceptable in the other countries? Have we taken on the “that’s not manly to go hang out one on one with a guy friend”.
How many friends do you need?
About 4 or 5 male friends is a good start.
Dunbar explained, “Men, on average, spend just less than half of their social time with an inner circle of four to five close mates – and research suggests that this is linked directly to the banter that such a group inspires and its benefits.
Through empirical studies, it has been proven that laughter is much less likely to occur if a social circle becomes bigger than five – and, because of laughter’s ability to produce the endorphin surges that give a sense of well-being, men may be subconsciously drawn towards ‘hanging out’ in social circles of this size.”
And meeting often is a good way to ensure friendships. Once or twice a week is what Dunbar suggests, of course over drinks was probably Guinness’ hope. But think about it, how can you today take a step toward creating and maintaining guy friends.
Theme trips are one of them. Mancations or wilderness camping trips are great ways to connect with guy friends. Or goals, like a marathon that you can work out together and share some time.
Trust me it takes the pressure off the spouse to meet all your needs. Now go show this to your wife why its important for you to go camping!
If you supervise a difficult or toxic person, you know it holds a particular set of challenges. You are probably trying to walk the line between firmness and friendliness in your management and a challenging personality can easily knock your style off-kilter. Last month, we discussed suggestions for how to deal with a grumpy or negative coworker, this month, here are my suggestions for effective management styles for the dreaded office grouch.
- Pay Attention – Many times a person may act out because they feel helpless, bored or unheard. Listen to clues into how the person thinks, what problems he or she faces, and whether or not there is anything you can do about it. You may be able to adjust their responsibilities to keep them engaged and interested. Or they may just need someone to care enough to hear what they have to say.
- Be Firm – This means giving specific, constructive feedback when you see a performance or interpersonal problem that is affecting your company. Do not avoid conflict! Check out my blog from last year about how to effectively handle a confrontation.
- Set Consequences– Be clear about ramifications for destructive behavior and follow through. Avoid arbitrary punishments and inconsistent enforcement. Frame these conversations in a positive light, encouraging the employee to live up to the potential you see in them or they may miss out on certain privileges.
- Avoid Gossip – Talking to a fellow employee or subordinate about the difficult person will only create more strife in your office environment. Just. Don’t.
- Take Notes – Keep track of incidents and behaviors in your documentation. This will help you to be specific when you confront an employee. The notes will also be invaluable if you ever have the unfortunate task of letting a toxic employee go.
Every workplace has them. When I say “difficult coworker,” I bet a person immediately comes to mind. (If not… that difficult person may be you!) In this two part blog series, I will discuss different strategies for both employees and managers to handle toxic, negative, and irritable people. Next month, I’ll focus on managing a difficult people, but what if you are on the same level? Here are some strategies for dealing with an unpleasant co-worker:
- Manage your reaction. More than likely, you are not going to be able to change this person’s behavior, but you can control your own. A calm response, a pleasant disposition, an awareness of your thoughts and a peaceful attitude will neutralize an emotional, negative or mean actions by a coworker. You can easily take away their power by counteracting it with kindness.
- Establish boundaries. Negative thinkers, complainers and reactive people are usually determined to drag you down too. Be proactive, find healthy ways to keep your distance, like changing your lunch hour to avoid long interactions. Or set boundaries of what you will and will not discuss with that person, and clearly and kindly letting them know if the topic comes up.
- Be empathetic. Even if you disagree with the behavior of a co-worker, you are less likely to lose your cool if you try to imagine where they are coming from. They may have a difficult family situation, a traumatic past, or a current health problem that is producing stress. Understanding will help you be kind when kindness does not seem merited.
These are just a few of the ways you can make your work with a difficult person more manageable. In my role as an Executive Success Coach, I can train you and your employees to foster a great environment in your workplace. Email me to get started, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Single Adjustment that can Change Your Family Dynamic
Life can move fast and sometimes even healthy families breeze past the time necessary to strengthen their relationships. There are so many complex issues in a family, but there is one simple change that can strengthen your family bond immediately: Eat dinner together. Research suggests that structured family meal times can improve grades, decrease obesity and even lower the risk of drug-abuse. Here are some suggestions for how to make dinnertime great.
- Set a Goal. You are probably busy with sports, homework and other extracurricular activities, so I recommend that you set a goal and a schedule for family meal time. You may start with just two set days a week. Inform your kids that those nights are off limits for friends or activities.
- Cook and Clean Together. Lower the stress by preparing simple meals and cleaning up together. This also encourages teamwork and gives your kids the chance to be creative and make memories. And the added benefit of teaching them how to cook and clean.
- Power Off. When it’s time to sit at the table, all electronics should be turned off or put in a different room. Parents, this includes you!
- Ask the Right Questions. Conversation does not need to be forced at the dinner table, but parents can keep in mind this principle when asking questions – be specific. If you ask “how was school today?” you’ll likely get a one word answer, “fine.” Try asking “What was your favorite activity you did at school today?” or “Who is the nicest (funniest, meanest) person in your class?” And of course, be an active listener!
While dinner may improve your family dynamics, it will not help you deal with difficult issues such as divorce, blended families, mental health problems, behavior issues and others. Contact me at (770) 641-8726 if you are seeking in-depth family counseling.
Steven D Brand, Psychotherapist Roswell, GA
How to Succeed with your New Year’s Resolutions
We all know the statistics about New Year’s Resolutions: Most people drop off of their self-improvement goals by the end of January. So, how can you be sure to hold on to your goals this year? Here are my four tips for successful goal-making – no matter what time of year it may be:
- Redefine Failure. Often, when you fail to meet a goal, you are not as likely to persist. That is because small failures often entice people to believe that they are incapable of reaching their goals. Instead of letting small failures stop you, build in to your resolutions the goal to be optimistic about your abilities and persist past small missteps.
- Reassess Periodically. It is a good idea to revisit your goals and meter your progress occasionally. I suggest that you make a note in your calendar to take a look back at your resolutions on (at least) a quarterly basis. This will keep your goals fresh in your mind and allow you to create short-term goals, instead of shooting for a lifetime improvement.
- Be Willing to Modify. Sometimes we are a bit too optimistic about our ability to change. If you are consistently falling short of your goals, include modifications into your quarterly reassessments. Success is a motivator! Once you meet these modified goals, you might consider a greater challenge in the next quarter.
- Find a Buddy. Your best bet for a successful change is finding someone else to do it with you. Resolutions are most rewarding when you have a friend or spouse challenge and motivate you when you miss your mark and to celebrate with you when you succeed.
The New Year is an amazing season for restoration and renewal. I wish you the best in your resolution-making and I hope you have a happy and successful New Year!
Steven D Brand