The link below leads to an article describing the chills sensation (frisson) most people have experienced feel with powerful music. It is something that, if harnessed and reproduced, can impact performance on the field. Some people liken it to an adrenaline rush which can motivate and push athletes to be their best. I often encourage athletes to use music in their pregame routing to pump them up and this article explains some of the underlying biological principles.
This article does a nice job explaining the function and impact of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is helpful if introduced into the body on a limited basis because it prepares the body for action. This process is normal when we experience stress as it pops up from time to time. What is not normal is when we perceive stress all the time by perpetually imagining worst case scenarios. Under these conditions cortisol can become toxic with side effects like agitation, fatigue, poor focus, lowered self-esteem, clinical anxiety, and major depression.
As the weather beings to improve (hopefully) many people will shift their attention and bodies from the couch, gym, and yoga studios to the street, trails, and track. Running has so many physical benefits, but the mental benefits often lack understanding. I often encourage my clients to run or engage in some activity that raises the heart rate. Running has been proven to alleviate the painful symptoms of depression and anxiety, while boosting self-esteem and confidence. The article below explains how running helps the brain grow new neurons, improve memory, assist emotional regulation, provide clarity, and help with executive functioning.
Here is the segment in which I was interviewed for NFL Films. It is about self-talk in sports
Running from demons.
When we try to avoid pain, problems, stress, weaknesses, sometimes these demons away. At least we think they go away. In reality those demons are there. In the shadows, waiting, and getting stronger. Meticulously devising a plan to interfere, hurt, and sabotage. When we run from demons, we are also running from a solution, a plan of attack, a fight. When you run from the demons they will control you.
Running with the demons.
Run alongside the demons. Understand these demons intimately. Where did they come from? How strong are they? What makes them stronger and what makes them weaker? Come face-to-face with your demons so you can eliminate what gives them strength. So you can exploit their weaknesses. Run with the demons so you can be in control of them. In doing so you can minimize how they cause pain. You can use their strength to work for you. You can better understand yourself. When you run with the demons you are running toward, not away from a solution. You are planning an attack. You are fighting.
This is the time of year when most people have given up on a New Year’s resolution and fallen prey to old habits. This means unhealthy diets, minimal exercising, smoking, too much drinking, succumbing to anger, giving up on therapy, not pursuing a new job, and not saving money. (Click on the link below for a list of common New Year’s resolutions that are broken.) Gym traffic begins to return to normal because New Year’s resolutions have lost their luster. Trying something new or making a substantial life change can be very difficult whether it is physical or psychological. I recently came across some information on temperament and personality types that might help with your pursuit of change. Listed below are temperaments/personality characteristics that influence the path to change. Which category best describes you?
One overarching factor that plays a role in all of these personality characteristics is persistence. Being aware of which group(s) best describes you, along with your level of persistence can prove useful in the process of change. You will be armed with valuable information that can help you avoid pitfalls, work through personal roadblocks, and stay motivated.
“Before we even show up at the doorstep of an opportunity, we are teeming with dread and anxiety, borrowing trouble from a future that hasn’t yet unfolded.”
Do you constantly doubt yourself? Is there a steady stream of anxiety prompting fantasizes that you will be discovered to be a fraud? Do you lack confidence despite clear evidence that you excel at something? Amy Cuddy is one of the leading researchers on the Imposter Syndrome. I believe that we all, at some point in our lives, suffer from dread associated with the notion that someone might reveal that we are in fact less intelligent, less athletic, less gifted, lazy, or unfit for the task at hand. I believe this is a normal part of growth because when were in the developing process, we are not skilled, yet. However I see many people who are fearful of being revealed as imposters when they are actually experts. There is a substantial amount of evidence these individuals are great at what they do, yet the fear of being recognized as an imposter plagues their thinking. Then performance suffers. With a little help most people can begin that journey of seeing themselves in a realistic perspective and eventually dispel the notion that they are not a novice masquerading as an expert, but they are in fact an a qualified expert.
I was interviewed for an article that featured former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil on clock management in the NFL.
All too often I have clients express frustration with “a racing mind” and “constant focus on the negative.” With some hard work, people can change this habit of their mind and the first step in this difficult, yet rewarding endeavor is creating some understanding. So I would like to share some neuroscience that will shed some light on why most people struggle with a perpetually negative mind.
How does your personality typically impact the day-to-day interactions you have with others? Are you choosing this style of interaction or are you on auto-pilot?
Early in therapy, I introduce almost of my clients to mindfulness through the Pearl Jam song ‘Present Tense.’ Many of the younger clients say they do not know Pearl Jam, which is unfortunate because I remember being a sophomore at Millersville University and going to the record store at midnight to get a copy of the album, "No Code." But I digress. Needless to say, I have heard this particular song more times than I can count. Last week I played it for a new client as an introduction to mindfulness. Typically I have fleeting negative mind reads that the new client is going to think I’m one of those hippy psychologists, this technique is boring, or that my taste in music stinks. With this particular client it was different. I really lost myself for the duration of the song. Accordingly, for the first time, I interpreted a part of the song accurately. The lines go:
Have you ideas on how this life ends?
Checked your hands and studied the lines.
Have you the belief that the road ahead ascends off into the light.
Now I realize that "checked your hands and studied the lines" refers to what a palm reader does to shed light on your unknown fate. Previously I thought this line was talking about the wrinkles we accumulate with age. But this moment of clarity allowed me to recognize that Eddie Vedder is explaining how our thoughts can drift to the future, which prevents us from being present in the moment. This new interpretation makes the song more relevant in therapy because it shows how a mind wandering to the future can exacerbate stress leading to increased anxiety.
I was able to have this moment of clarity, intense focus, and ultimately ‘see’ something that was once hidden because the impact my client had on me. She is cheerful, open-minded, engaging, and nonjudgmental. Her disposition put my mind at a state of ease that allowed me to see something that had been hidden in plain sight for quite some time. Her personality allowed me to remain undistracted by the all too common negative mind reads and judgments. Most of the time we are very aware of the small details of others’ personalities/tendencies and the impact these details have on us. Some common examples can include: her bossiness pisses me off, her willingness to handle things is relieving, his inappropriate comments make me uncomfortable, his energy is contagious… Over the next week turn the lens around and pay attention to the details of your personality and how they might impact others, both the good and the bad. Pay attention to whether your interactions with others tend to result in strong, meaningful connections or do you regularly feel disconnected. Either way it has a lot to do with what you bring to the interaction. You play the most consistent and strongest role in the outcome of your interpersonal interactions.
Here is a live version of this song from a Philly show.
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