Get Off The Raging River

October 4th, 2016 / No Comments »

Whitewater   triple step on the river Guil in French Alps e1475600425813 Get Off The Raging River

Interpersonal anger can seem a lot like a wild, whitewater river, rushing us along swiftly until we crash into the rocks. It feels like one step leads inevitably to another, without options or choice. If you’ve had that experience with rage, you might want to slow your actions down and see that there are actually a number of options in your conflicts with others. There are almost always several opportunities to paddle into calmer water and circumvent harmful anger.

Anger with our loved ones usually begins with frustration or painFear of consequences follows – “I can’t put up with this or I’ll lose everything and my life will be ruined.” Next, especially when you’re mad at someone else, there appears an assumption that the other person is trying to upset you or to take advantage of you – they are doing it on purpose. So, they must be a bad person who won’t fight fair, and you feel like you had better defend yourself. In fact, you might need to get back at them for making you feel this way.

When you break it down in this way, you can see that there are a number of places where your conclusions might be faulty. You could steer your thoughts and feelings in a very different direction by considering alternative explanations.

Here are some examples:

For your pain, “I don’t need to make such a big deal out of it – I’ll feel better soon. Sometimes people lash out and say things they don’t really mean”

For fear tell yourself: “I’m getting too upset. I can find a solution after I’ve calmed down. I don’t want to pressure me or my loved one into doing something hasty and stupid.”

When it seems to be on purpose, “Maybe we see things differently. We can talk this out.”

When someone you usually care about seems to be a bad person, say, “Everyone makes mistakes. I can still value our relationship.”

When you feel hurt by someone and feel like hurting them to get back at them, say “I’m OK and in control. Let’s solve our problems rather than blame each other.”

With intense interpersonal anger, it is crucial that you and your partner learn to let each other take a time out instead of letting anger poison your feelings for each other. Try saying this: “I’m getting too angry. I need to take a break and calm down. You can think what you want. Our relationship is really important to me. I promise I’ll come back and talk about this when I’m calmer.”

Once you slow down, find a calmer place in the river and paddle in place for a while.  You’ll usually see there are actually several ways to understand what happened. When you react differently, you are likely to find a stronger, more reasonable solution to your conflict, and you may even find that you get a really different reaction from the person you are in conflict with than your initial anger suggested you would get.

45 Ideas to Help Soothe, Inspire & Ponder

July 26th, 2016 / No Comments »

sunset 1359982 960 720 45 Ideas to Help Soothe, Inspire & Ponder

I turned 45 this year.  In honor of this big birthday, here are 45 ideas, thoughts, musings that I’ve gained over the years. In my lifelong quest for learning, I am always on the lookout for data that will help make me a better person, or (hopefully) contribute to making the world a better place. I let some friends and family know I was doing this, and some of their comments and ideas are scattered throughout the list. Enjoy!

1. Kindness, to self and others really makes a difference.
2. There’s something magical about the beach, and being in the water.
3. True bravery is having a thoughtful, direct conversation.
4. This aging thing is not that easy.
5. Sometimes chocolate cupcakes and a glass of milk makes a yummy breakfast.
6. If you resist starting to smoke when you’re young, your adult self will thank you.
7. A great philosophy to have is, “Why not ask?” You’d be amazed what people will say yes to if you only ask. (My Dad)
8. When you’re feeling bored with life, mix it up by trying something new.
9. It seems silly, but if you talk to your pets (and very young children), they will understand your tone and general intention even if they don’t understand the words exactly.
10. My favorite formula: Pretty good = Perfect.
11. A cup of hot water and lemon is very soothing, and can help alleviate the late night munchies.
12. Experiences create longer lasting memories than buying a material object.
13. You never know what you are doing for someone just by being there. (My Mom)
14. Meditation, even only 2 minutes a day, can improve your mood and relax your brain.
15. My friend Rachel reminds us: babysitters and housekeepers are little miracles for busy Moms.
16. The three building blocks to mental health are surprisingly physical: sleep, exercise and good nutrition.
17. I got conflicting reports from my friends about whether a glass of nice Scotch or being in recovery are better soothers, my guess is that either one can be awesome, you just need to know which one is best for you!
18. Inclining your mind to the positive is very helpful but takes consistent practice.
19. Denver traffic has become quite a challenge; stress less by leaving more time than you used to need to get to places.
20. My friend Laura and I were talking about raising daughters and she has decided we just need to stop it! Passing along body image issues to our daughters is optional, especially if we just decide we no longer need to have body image issues and love our bodies instead.
21. There is something incredibly restorative about hiking.
22. Cats and horses are my favorite animals; I’m still growing into being a dog person.
23. Selectively choosing to binge watch television can be very therapeutic.
24. Most people are wonderful and interesting, even if they are very different from you. A few people are very unsafe. Listen to your gut to tell who is who.
25. Challenge yourself to be playful as an adult. Your inner child will thank you!
26. I know it’s old school, but I’m convinced that pen and paper is actually quicker, easier and less stressful than using electronic devices.
27. The best romantic relationships balance fit, attraction and timing.
28. Take a risk, try swimming in the rain when you get a chance. It’s wonderful!
29. It is really fun being the woman lifting heavy in the weight room.
30. My friend Heather teaches: Don’t ask, “Why me?” Instead, ask “Why not me” and learn from everything you go through.
31. Complaining is contagious. So is smiling. Please, smile more!
32. When you’re clear about your values, life choices are easier to navigate.
33. Trying your hardest means more in the long run than getting an “A.”
34. We humans work best with a combination of push and rest, not push, push, push and collapse.
35. Say yes to whipped cream on your hot chocolate.
36. 7 hours of sleep is the minimum recommended amount.
37. Shorter commutes make life better.
38. Caring less about what other people think is powerful.
39. Taking the “high road” in a conflict may initially feel hard and lonely, but almost always pays off.
40. At the core of most human conflict is the issue of “Why aren’t you me?”
41. Looking to the root of an issue is often where the cure is found. (My buddy Eric)
42. A child’s contagious laughter is an instant mood brightener. (My Friend Kristin)
43. Humans (just like most mammals) respond best to warm, clear boundaries, and rewards.
44. Strong is totally more satisfying than skinny.
45. When it rains, open up the windows and doors and enjoy the smell and sound of the weather.

The Important Truth About Sexual Assault

July 19th, 2016 / No Comments »

Blog the important truth about sexual assault The Important Truth About Sexual Assault

This is not a fun topic, but, although it is an upsetting one, it is a critical topic to begin to address in our culture.  An article came across my computer the other day, revealing the “startling truth” about sexual assault cases.  Basically, the article reports research that examines the results of backlogged rape kits finally being processed (don’t even get me started on how we have a backlog of rape evidence kits).  The supposedly surprising results?  Well, perpetrators perpetrate.

We have a bunch of the same men raping different victims over time.  Somehow, this is startling information when it should be standard information.  This is information we have known for years.  Since this is information that is too difficult for many to digest, we continue to fuel myths about sexual assault, such as that it is rare (nope: 1 in 3 women over their lifetime, 1 in 5 men over their lifetime, 1 in 5 for women just during their college years).

I have known this personally and professionally, from a distance through studying research and having education from experts, and from up close and personal.  I remember decades ago in college learning to avoid the serial rapist at one of the fraternities.  The women talked to each other in an attempt to keep each other safe.  The young man was protected by his politician father, his vast wealth and his “old boys club” connections.  Thus, although he raped one of my very best friends, along with a string of other young women, he was never charged.

I remember the young man in my Master’s program who stalked me, and when I somehow lucked out of his attention, stalked 3 more women in my program, and was eventually let go of his job on campus for inappropriate conduct.

I have worked with countless victims of sexual assault who had a perpetrator who assaulted them, plus their siblings and their friends.  I recall being profoundly disturbed by the stats cited by one of my offense specific treatment colleagues: lie detector tests revealed an average of 44 victims and a variety of offenses for first time convicted sexual offenders.  That is men charged for one offense, given a lie detector test, demonstrating the pattern of multiple victims, 44 on average.  44!

Perpetrators perpetrate.  It is really that basic.  You know how a runner goes running? Aren’t most dog lovers loving on the dogs they know? How about the cooks you know, I bet they are cooking frequently or at least planning their next cooking extravaganza!  Same thing with perpetrators.  It is a repetitive behavior, unfortunately much less healthy or enjoyable than being an athlete, cook or dog lover.

A few problem men are making life difficult for many women.  This is not startling news, and it is time to bring this problem to an end.  Men are not the problem.  Women are not the problem.  Perpetrators are the problem.  Enough is enough.

Thanks for hearing me out, Dr. C

* For more information on the article see this link:

* This is an article about heterosexual sexual assault.  This in no way should minimize male on male assaults or female assaults on men or women (which although much more rare, do occur).

The Power of Working With Your Rhythms! Why The 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Work

July 5th, 2016 / No Comments »

Reposted from on 6/7/2016 by Travis Bradberry.

computer 1185626 960 720 300x199 The Power of Working With Your Rhythms! Why The 8 Hour Workday Doesnt Work

The eight-hour workday is an outdated and ineffective approach to work. If you want to be as productive as possible, you need to let go of this relic and find a new approach.

The eight-hour workday was created during the industrial revolution as an effort to cut down on the number of hours of manual labor that workers were forced to endure on the factory floor. This breakthrough was a more humane approach to work 200 years ago, yet it possesses little relevance for us today.

Like our ancestors, we’re expected to put in eight-hour days, working in long, continuous blocks of time, with few or no breaks. Heck, most people even work right through their lunch hour!

This antiquated approach to work isn’t helping us; it’s holding us back.

The Best Way To Structure Your Day

A study recently conducted by the Draugiem Group used a computer application to track employees’ work habits. Specifically, the application measured how much time people spent on various tasks and compared this to their productivity levels.

In the process of measuring people’s activity, they stumbled upon a fascinating finding: the length of the workday didn’t matter much; what mattered was how people structured their day. In particular, people who were religious about taking short breaks were far more productive than those who worked longer hours.

The ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest. People who maintained this schedule had a unique level of focus in their work. For roughly an hour at a time, they were 100% dedicated to the task they needed to accomplish. They didn’t check Facebook “real quick” or get distracted by emails. When they felt fatigue (again, after about an hour), they took short breaks, during which they completely separated themselves from their work. This helped them to dive back in refreshed for another productive hour of work.

Your Brain Wants An Hour On, 15 Minutes Off

People who have discovered this magic productivity ratio crush their competition because they tap into a fundamental need of the human mind: the brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15–20 minutes).

For most of us, this natural ebb and flow of energy leaves us wavering between focused periods of high energy followed by far less productive periods, when we tire and succumb to distractions.

The best way to beat exhaustion and frustrating distractions is to get intentional about your workday. Instead of working for an hour or more and then trying to battle through distractions and fatigue, when your productivity begins to dip, take this as a sign that it’s time for a break.

Real breaks are easier to take when you know they’re going to make your day more productive. We often let fatigue win because we continue working through it (long after we’ve lost energy and focus), and the breaks we take aren’t real breaks (checking your e-mail and watching YouTube doesn’t recharge you the same way as taking a walk does).

The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It

April 19th, 2016 / No Comments »

Reposted from

africa 1170226 960 720 The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are a giraffe.

You live on the grasslands of the African savannah. You have a neck that is 7 feet long (2.1 meters). Every now and then, you spot a group of humans driving around on a safari taking pictures of you.

But it’s not just your neck and their cameras that separates you from the humans. Perhaps the biggest difference between you and your giraffe friends and the humans taking your picture is that nearly every decision you make provides an immediate benefit to your life.

When you are hungry, you walk over and munch on a tree.
When a storm rolls across the plains, you take shelter under the brush.
When you spot a lion stalking you and your friends, you run away.
On any given day, most of your choices as a giraffe—like what to eat or where to sleep or when to avoid a predator—make an immediate impact on your life. You live in what researchers call an Immediate Return Environment because your actions deliver immediate benefits. Your life is strongly oriented toward the present moment.

The Delayed Return Environment
Now, let’s flip the script and pretend you are one of the humans vacationing on safari. Unlike the giraffe, humans live in what researchers call a Delayed Return Environment.

Most of the choices you make today will not benefit you immediately. If you do a good job at work today, you’ll get a paycheck in a few weeks. If you save money now, you’ll have enough for retirement later. Many aspects of modern society are designed to delay rewards until some point in the future.

This is true of our problems as well. While a giraffe is worried about immediate problems like avoiding lions and seeking shelter from a storm, many of the problems humans worry about are problems of the future.

For example, while bouncing around the savannah in your Jeep, you might think, “This safari has been a lot of fun. It would be cool to work as a park ranger and see giraffes every day. Speaking of work, is it time for a career change? Am I really doing the work I was meant to do? Should I change jobs?”

Unfortunately, living in a Delayed Return Environment tends to lead to chronic stress and anxiety for humans. Why? Because your brain wasn’t designed to solve the problems of a Delayed Return Environment.

The Evolution of the Human Brain
The human brain developed into its current form while humans still lived in an Immediate Return Environment.

The earliest remains of modern humans—known as Homo sapiens sapiens—are approximately 200,000 years old. These were the first humans to have a brain relatively similar to yours. In particular, the neocortex—the newest part of the brain and the part responsible for higher functions like language—was roughly the same size 200,000 years ago as it is today.

Compared to the age of the brain, modern society is incredibly new. It is only recently—during the last 500 years or so—that our society has shifted to a predominantly Delayed Return Environment. The pace of change has increased exponentially compared to prehistoric times. In the last 100 years we have seen the rise of the car, the airplane, the television, the personal computer, the Internet, and Beyonce. Nearly everything that makes up your daily life has been created in a very small window of time.

A lot can happen in 100 years. From the perspective of evolution, however, 100 years is nothing. The modern human brain spent hundreds of thousands of years evolving for one type of environment (immediate returns) and in the blink of an eye the entire environment changed (delayed returns). Your brain was designed to value immediate returns.

The Evolution of Anxiety
The mismatch between our old brain and our new environment has a significant impact on the amount of chronic stress and anxiety we experience today.

Thousands of years ago, when humans lived in an Immediate Return Environment, stress and anxiety were useful emotions because they helped us take action in the face of immediate problems.

For example:

A lion appears across the plain > you feel stressed > you run away > your stress is relieved.

A storm rumbles in the distance > you worry about finding shelter > you find shelter > your anxiety is relieved.

You haven’t drank any water today > you feel stressed and dehydrated > you find water > your stress is relieved.

This is how your brain evolved to use worry, anxiety, and stress. Anxiety was an emotion that helped protect humans in an Immediate Return Environment. It was built for solving short-term, acute problems. There was no such thing as chronic stress because there aren’t really chronic problems in an Immediate Return Environment.

Wild animals rarely experience chronic stress. As Duke University professor Mark Leary put it, “A deer may be startled by a loud noise and take off through the forest, but as soon as the threat is gone, the deer immediately calms down and starts grazing. And it doesn’t appear to be tied in knots the way that many people are.” When you live in an Immediate Return Environment, you only have to worry about acute stressors. Once the threat is gone, the anxiety subsides.

Today we face different problems. Will I have enough money to pay the bills next month? Will I get the promotion at work or remain stuck in my current job? Will I repair my broken relationship? Problems in a Delayed Return Environment can rarely be solved right now in the present moment.

What to Do About It
One of the greatest sources of anxiety in a Delayed Return Environment is the constant uncertainty. There is no guarantee that working hard in school will get you a job. There is no promise that investments will go up in the future. There is no assurance that going on a date will land you a soulmate. Living in a Delayed Return Environment means you are surrounded by uncertainty.

So what can you do? How can you thrive in a Delayed Return Environment that creates so much stress and anxiety?

The first thing you can do is measure something. You can’t know for certain how much money you will have in retirement, but you can remove some uncertainty from the situation by measuring how much you save each month. You can’t be sure that you’ll get a job after graduation, but you can track how often you reach out to companies about internships. You can’t predict when you find love, but you can pay attention to how many times you introduce yourself to someone new.

The act of measurement takes an unknown quantity and makes it known. When you measure something, you immediately become more certain about the situation. Measurement won’t magically solve your problems, but it will clarify the situation, pull you out of the black box of worry and uncertainty, and help you get a grip on what is actually happening.

Furthermore, one of the most important distinctions between an Immediate Return Environment and a Delayed Return Environment is rapid feedback. Animals are constantly getting feedback about the things that cause them stress. As a result, they actually know whether or not they should feel stressed. Without measurement you have no feedback.

If you’re looking for good measurement strategies, I suggest using something simple like The Paper Clip Strategy for tracking repetitive, daily actions and something like The Seinfeld Strategy for tracking long-term behaviors.

Shift Your Worry
The second thing you can do is “shift your worry” from the long-term problem to a daily routine that will solve that problem.

Instead of worrying about living longer, worry about taking a walk each day.
Instead of worrying about whether your child will get a college scholarship, worry about how much time they spend studying today.
Instead of worrying about losing enough weight for the wedding, worry about cooking a healthy dinner tonight.
The key insight that makes this strategy work is making sure your daily routine both rewards you right away (immediate return) and resolves your future problems (delayed return).

Here are the three examples from my life:

Writing. When I publish an article, the quality of my life is noticeably higher. Additionally, I know that if I write consistently, then my business will grow, I will publish books, and I will make enough money to sustain my life. By focusing my attention on writing each day, I increase my well-being (immediate return) while also working toward earning future income (delayed return).

Lifting. I experienced a huge shift in well-being when I learned to fall in love with exercise. The act of going to the gym brings joy to my life (immediate return) and it also leads to better long-term health (delayed return).

Reading. Last year, I posted my public reading list and began reading 20 pages per day. Now, I get a sense of accomplishment whenever I do my daily reading (immediate return) and the practice helps me develop into an interesting person (delayed return).

Our brains didn’t evolve in a Delayed Return Environment, but that’s where we find ourselves today. My hope is that by measuring the things that are important to you and shifting your worry to daily practices that pay off in the long-run, you can reduce some of the uncertainty and chronic stress that is inherent in modern society.