Friday, September 18, 2015

What’s your personality worth?

When searching for a new job, we normally pay attention to information like experience, education and skills.  But what about our personalities?  Have you ever considered how your personality translates into a paycheck?

That’s the question the Career Assessment Site put to the test.  Using the Myers-Briggs personality test, they determined the traits that earn the most and those that earn the least. 

The most prevalent personality traits of top earners include being driven, forward thinking and decisive.  These are people who are focused on getting ahead and often don’t allow other people to steer them off their paths.  They’re also more often the people who are unafraid to ask for raises in pay or to take risks that may pay off for their companies and themselves. 

Top earners are also results-oriented and are quickly able to notice inefficiencies.  This allows them to streamline company procedures and maximize profits.  You may notice more questions in the interview process geared toward identifying these personality traits.  Questions that require you to highlight the outcomes of your previous job performance. 

The people who earn the most are also able to take criticism.  They understand that the goal of the organization is to maximize profits and the quality of services and that criticism is not meant to be taken personally.  They don’t allow insecurities to get the best of them or grudges to prevent them from doing the best work they can do.

Lastly, top earners are visible.  They don’t hide out in their cubicle and avoid interacting with others.  They embrace a team mentality and are eager to get involved in projects.  They also tend to be more optimistic which fosters persistence and an ability to rise after failure. 

The good news is that our personalities, while consistent, are not completely fixed.  This means, we can learn to behave a little more like our opposites intentionally.  For instance, introverts can learn to behave more like extraverts by learning to balance opportunities for visibility with their need to recharge after social interactions.  The effort may equal more change in your pocket.

How to get over a Crazy Ex!

Has your relationship history been more like this

Then this

  You're not alone.  Many people struggle with finding the right person to share their lives with.  Particularly when we have few examples of healthy relationships in our own lives.  It can be difficult to recognize red flags when they pop up.  Or you may be so focused on the happy ever after that you miss them or ignore them all together.  It could even be your unconscious sabotaging your success!

Next month, Forward Recovery will be talking about this exact topic at an October 10th workshop.  In it, you'll learn about Relationship PTSD and how to know if you have it.  You'll also learn what to do about it, including how to be more discerning of the person you are hoping to spend a lifetime with.  Join us for lunch and some learning and I promise you won't leave disappointed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Don't worry - it's unlikely you'll marry your mother.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before.  The theory that everyone ends up marrying his or her parent.  That because your earliest exposure to the opposite sex is often your mom or dad, they either blessed you or doomed you to seek out a mate just like them.  Well it turns out, that’s not quite true. 

In a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, researchers found that you’re more likely to be the one most like your parents than your significant other.  And your significant other is only likely to share their level of openness with your parents. 

So, while we do learn our relationship rules and communication skills from our families of origin, such rules and skills are malleable.  Meaning, we can always learn new ways of relating to other people in our social circles.  And this ability to adapt helps to bring new experiences and ways of being into our sphere or influence. 

So the next time you’re worried whether you’re marrying your mother or your father, look more toward yourself for your parents’ reflections.  And embrace the new relationship features that come with inviting a new person with whom to share your life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Six Quick Tips to Reduce Stress At Work

 We’ve all had those days at work.  The ones where the boss is in a cranky mood, your coworkers are non-stop gossip mills, you’ve got a ton of work to get through on your desk and your clients are constantly in your ear with one complaint after another.   I bet even reading those sentences had you feeling stressed.

Stress has become a never-ending part of modern life and is one of the leading causes of discord in the office.  And it makes sense.  As our stress levels go up, often our patience and abilities to concentrate go down.  And this can lead to bad work reviews and poor service.  So how can you manage this daily stress and keep your cool?  Here are six quick tips.

Step One

First, assess where your stress most often comes from.  Is it a demanding boss?  Is it a nosy co-workers?  Is it even self-created?  Knowing the source or sources of your stress is the first step to being able to do something about it.

Step Two

Next, decide whether the source of stress is something that can be avoided or has to be managed.  For instance, if the office gossip is not someone you have to work closely with, it may be best to cut off communication with this person and avoid them.  

Step Three

If you cannot avoid your source of stress, then you have to manage your stressors.  To do this, you need strategies that you can implement when you feel your stress levels rise.  One way to do this is to schedule yourself mini-breaks.  You can take a walk to the bathroom or get a cup of tea, but get away from your desk for a few minutes to clear your mind.

Step Four

Another way to manage stress is to practice mindfulness.  Mindfulness is about being aware of what is going on in the present.  For instance paying attention to the task at hand while breathing deeply – kind of like you would do in yoga – a breath in during one movement and a breath out during another. 

Step Five

A fifth way to manage stress is to practice compassion.  Compassion is a gentle showing of concern and forgiveness of a person who is struggling.  Notice your suffering in the moment and forgive yourself for feeling stressed, angry or upset.  Notice the shortcomings of those you work with and forgive them for that too.  You will be surprised how powerful the act of forgiveness and compassion can be.

Step Six

Lastly, you can use the Safe/Calm technique.  Take a few moments and think of a place in your mind that makes you feel calm, safe or both.  This can be an actual place or a place you make up entirely in your mind.  For example, many people choose to imagine themselves at the beach.  Allow yourself to really experience the beach in your mind.  Notice the sounds, smells and feelings associated with the scene.  Notice how your body responds to the image and also your breathing.  Choose a word that goes with how you are feeling.  For example, peace.  Then hold the word and the image together in your mind.  You can strengthen this by gently and slowly rocking back and forth – side to side.  Notice how calm you are now? 

Managing stress is a skill that can help you live a longer life and a happier life, especially at the office.  For more on how to improve your work environment, visit


Monday, September 14, 2015

Trust - The currency of the therapeutic process.

If you’ve ever spent time in a therapist’s office, you know about the variety of emotions that therapy can bring up.  Some days you wish your session would never end and on others, you can’t wait to hit the door.  When a person comes to therapy, they are expecting to work through some issues and feel better.  However, sometimes with deep issues, the feeling better part doesn’t come as fast as you might like.

Therapists know that sometimes it’s our jobs to push a client and that can be uncomfortable for them.  They will at times feel frustrated with us or even angry.  But it’s important to know that all of this is ok.  It does not necessarily mean you are not getting along with your therapist or that the therapist doesn’t like you.  It doesn’t mean that you’re beyond help or that you should give up.  It means you’ve just got to trust the process. 

And trust is often a difficult thing for our clients, another thing that us therapists know.  It’s why we go to such lengths to make sure your sessions are private and that we check in to make sure you are making the progress you told us you want to make.  However, in order to make progress, you may have to go out of your comfort zone and say, think or do things you normally don’t like to do.

Trusting the process also means not rushing the process.  Therapy of all kinds, even the brief therapies, take a certain amount of time.  You will gain the insights you need at your own pace.  You will experience healing when your brain is ready to.  You will often change in very slow and small ways.  But remember, small changes over time can be very big things. 

Trusting the process also means trusting yourself.  Trusting that you can heal yourself.  That you can be a better, healthier person.  Trusting that you have the skills to get there or at least can learn them with some effort.  Trusting that you can change is important to the process of therapy. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Relationship PTSD - What is it and how can I get past it?

As human beings, we require social relationships in order to grow into functioning adults.  We evolved this way because our survival depended on strong communities working together.  In fact, on an instinctual level we know that to not belong can mean death.  It is because of this that the quality of our relationships often determine the quality of life we will have. 

For all of us, our first relationships were with our parents.  In fact, everything we know about relationships started with them.  So, think about your early relationships.  Were you parents nurturing?  Were they available?  Were they involved or preoccupied?  Were they abusive or loving?  Were there conditions placed on your worth as a person?  Did you find you never quite measured up? 

When a person is involved in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, it can leave behind scars.  You may find it difficult to extend trust in new relationships.  You may be on guard for when your new relationship “turns” or when your partner begins to change towards you.  You may feel like the world is not safe anymore.  You may not be able to trust your instincts about people.  You may even have flashbacks of the abusive or unhealthy relationship, become filled with rage or isolate yourself from friends and family.  All of these behaviors are symptoms of what experts are calling Posttraumatic Relationship Syndrome or Relationship PTSD. 

Traumatic experiences are handled very differently by our brains than normal experiences.  In a normal experience, the brain has the time and ability to process the situation at hand, make sense of it and apply coping skills.  In fact, our brains are hardwired with an internal processing system geared toward healing.  The system helps us learn from each of our experiences and then let go of any information that does not serve a purpose.  But with disturbing experiences, the normal processing system becomes interrupted and the memory is stored as you experienced it – in its raw form.  It then remains this way, unprocessed and not integrated with our general memory networks.  Because of this, we experience lingering effects of the original experience.  And although time can dull the effects of the experience, it often fails to heal it. 

So what can be done about this?  The good thing is that the brain can reprocess the lingering memories of the negative experiences, through a form of therapy known as EMDR.  EMDR therapy is a form of therapy using eye movements that simulate REM sleep – the period of the sleep cycle characterized by an increase in brain activity and is thought to be the time where experiences of the previous day are processed by the brain and then stored in the memory networks.  This therapy helps to remove the lingering symptoms experienced as a result of the bad relationship.  This leaves you free of the past to enjoy new, healthy relationships in the future.

Once the effects of the negative memories are processed, you can then work on learning how to spot bad relationships before you get into them. 

If you live in the Tampa, FL area and want to learn more about Relationship PTSD and how to overcome it, you can attend the Relationship PTSD workshop on October 10, 2015.  For more information, visit and click on the events page.

Friday, September 4, 2015

5 Steps For Kicking Your Toxic Relationship To The Curb

Human beings are hard wired for social interaction.  We crave the feeling of belonging to the point that sometimes we may even overlook a person’s bad behavior to avoid feeling like we’re alone.  But toxic relationships can do way more harm than good.  Here’s how to kick those people to the curb.

Step 1: Realizing Your Own Worth

The first step, is realizing that your time and your presence is worth something.  I have a mantra I share with the clients in my therapy practice – “It’s a privilege to be in my presence.”  A saying I’ve written about before.  This saying is so true and believing it sets up a measuring stick for how the people in your life are treating you. 

What this saying means is that your presence is worth something and that anyone who wants to have a relationship with you has to recognize that.  If they don’t, you remove your presence from the equation.  But think about what it means for something to be privileged?  Think about something or someone you value and then think about how you treat that object.  Do you take care of it?  Are you gentle with it?  Do you place it in high regard?  This is how another person should be treating their relationship with you!

Step 2:  Their emotions are NOT your FAULT or your RESPONSIBILITY

Another of the rules I have for my clients is they are never, ever responsible for another adult’s emotions.  We choose all of our emotions every single moment of every single day.  I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, because most of the time we simply react to daily events without much thought.  But at any time, with the realization that our emotions are all under our own control, we can change what we feel. 

When someone does something we don’t like, we can choose to be angry, or we can choose something different.  When someone says something mean to us, we can again choose to be angry, or choose to let it roll off our backs and move on.  We have that power. 

The thing is, sometimes toxic people will blame you for “causing” their uncomfortable emotions.  This blame is a manipulation strategy to keep your relationship always on their terms.  They may use threats such as if you do x, I’ll never speak to you again, or I’ll have to do whatever with someone else.  Because they have trained you to believe that without them, you would have no one.  Hold that one up to the evidence.  Is it really true?

Step 3: Expect Them to Act Out When You Cut Them Out

Toxic people thrive off of being able to manipulate others.  They do this through behaviors such as blaming, complaining, nagging , etc.  It’s all designed to get you to be the bad guy and come running back to them willing to do whatever it takes to appease them.  When you make up your mind to cut them out, expect some push back.

Your toxic person may react with anger, but remember they are choosing this anger.  You are choosing to be healthy, and you have every right to do so.  This is the time to remain assertive, calm and stand your ground.  By giving in to the anger, you are rewarding this toxic behavior.  You are also not treating yourself like a person whose presence is a privilege to be around.  

Step 4: Make Room For Healthy Relationships

In order to have healthy relationships, you have to surround yourself with people who know what a healthy relationship is.  Removing the toxic person from your life opens room in your life for a person who can treat you with the respect you deserve. 

 Here’s an exercise you can try:  Find a notebook or piece of paper and divide it into two columns.  On one side, you’re going to write “I’m making room for a new, healthy relationship.”  Then sit quietly for a moment and see what kind of thoughts come to mind.  Whatever they may be, write them down in the second column.  Then repeat, “I’m making room for a new, healthy relationship” in the first column, and whatever thoughts you have in the second.  Through this exercise you’re priming your brain to accept this statement as a truth and processing through any negative thoughts that may arise that might stop your progress.

Step 5: Limit Your Exposure

Sometimes the toxic people in our lives are family members and can’t be completely cut out.  In this case, it’s important to limit your exposure and plan for time spent with this person.  You may need to set limits for yourself, such as I’ll only stay for 30 minutes or if a certain behavior goes on, then I will take a break, go home, etc.  Your number one goal is to protect your own mental health and you give yourself permission to do this ahead of time.  A good idea may be to rehearse your exposure before hand so you know what to do and to reduce any anxiety.  Just remember, when people treat you like your presence is not a privilege, it is completely within your right to remove your presence.