About A Shift of Mind

A Shift of Mind offers a provocative reframing of how we look at reality, our lives and our relationships. Its intention is to challenge our beliefs and thinking so that we can untether ourselves from our recurring challenges.

Steeped in a new approach to thinking, this blog addresses many of the common issues in our lives with a very uncommon approach. I contend that a shift of mind is the most powerful thing in the universe. A new insight — with a commitment and intention toward change — frees us from the past and writes a new script for our lives.

As a psychotherapist and marriage counselor, I’ve developed my own particular approach to self-actualization. My method is very much influenced by the remarkable discoveries of the emerging sciences, most notably quantum physics. By integrating these discoveries into practical, everyday tools that people may integrate into their lives, I’ve witnessed countless transformations. These advances in conceptual thinking continue to enable individuals to live more successful, fulfilling, and productive lives.

I hope you enjoy reading A Shift of Mind as much as I enjoy writing it!

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.melschwartz.com/2012/10/02/about-a-shift-of-mind/

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Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Best Foot Forward

 

putting best foot forward

Most people begin their dating relationships by putting their proverbial “best foot” forward. We do this to entice the other person to like us and possibly fall for us.  If the relationship succeeds the courtship typically declines over time as the routine sets in. The months may turn into years and eventually one or both people may claim, “You’re not who I thought you were.” Of course not, how can we possibly know each other when we’re selectively hiding particular aspects of our being?

 

 

Putting your best foot forward makes no sense in light of the fact that over time, your true self will surface. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to present your genuine self and not worry about someone else’s judgment? When we manipulate or alter ourselves out of concern for what others will think, we abandon our authentic self-esteem and invest in what I call other-esteem Self-Esteem or Other-Esteem? . This is not only ruinous to our actual self-worth it is nonsensical in terms of the relationship itself. Two people doing a dance around authenticity doesn’t augur well for a successful relationship

 

From my professional experience – as a therapist and marriage counselor – it takes as much as two years of being in a committed and emotionally intimate relationship for a couple to reasonably feel that they know one another. Yet, very often, the pledge of commitment occurs prematurely for the other shoe hasn’t yet dropped. So what are we committing to? Who we’re pretending to be? This is a prescription for disaster and accounts for a large percentage of failed or unhappy relationships down the road. In fact, emotional intimacy requires removing the masks and disguises that we wear which obscure our genuine self.

 

A client of mine shared the following story: He met a young woman for lunch on a prearranged blind date. He said he had a really nice time, found himself emotionally and verbally engaged and quite attracted to her. I asked him if he thought she felt similarly. He happily indicated that was the case, as far as he knew. Yet, there was something nagging at him.

 

There were aspects of his life that he felt she would be judgmental about. I explored this with him and helped him consider that he might be constructing a problem where none existed. His inclination was to hide those aspects of his personality and his past that she might scrutinize. I suggested that he do just the opposite. I encouraged him to reveal his true self. What did he have to lose? If his fear was justified and she disapproved of him, why delay the inevitable? Did he want her to like who he was pretending to be or who he really was?

 

On their next date, he freely shared stories about himself that he otherwise would have kept hidden, for fear of her scrutiny. He reported with surprise and delight, that she not only accepted the cloaked parts of his persona, but, was actually intrigued by them. When we defend against our insecurities and put our best foot forward, masking what we feel vulnerable about, we betray our authenticity and self-esteem and sabotage the future of the relationship as well. Being thoughtful, considerate and sensitive shouldn’t be confused with hiding aspects of yourself that you feel tentative about. You owe it to yourself and the future of the relationship to embrace your discomfort and reveal your genuine self.

 

 

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Being Heard: Breaking Through the Impasse

troubleIn my last post, Silence: A Relationship Killer, we explored the ruinous consequences that intentional silence has on relationships. Silence is antithetical to healthy communicating. Very often people may resort to silence because they anticipate that what they need to say will fall on deaf ears or, worse still, invite an angry reaction. Anticipating that roadblock, we may choose silence. There is a better way, however. Let’s look at how we can navigate these sensitive communications successfully.

When we initiate a challenging discussion, it’s more than likely that the other party may not truly be listening. Their negative reaction may be triggered by specific words or topics, our tone, or body language, but it is most likely anchored in the memory of past impasses and unresolved conflicts. More often than not, the other person appears to be defending their territory and preparing their rebuttal while we’re still trying to articulate our thoughts, and vice-versa of course. Your sentence may not be complete before the other person’s reaction has begun. The futility of not being heard becomes a primary reason why people may default to silence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.melschwartz.com/2014/01/25/being-heard-breaking-through-the-impasse/

Silence: A Relationship Killer

How-to-End-your-RelationshipOver the many years that I’ve been practicing therapy, I’ve found that couples that are struggling in their relationships often succumb to the default mode of silence. Sometimes, it’s one person who defers to the unspoken, and at times it’s actually both. In either circumstance, such silence – not a healthy pause or meditative break – speaks to the absence of verbal and emotional intimacy. Unless we’re communicating on levels of extra sensory perception or body language, words are the only tools available to us to communicate let alone resolve our issues. There’s little sense to being in a relationship and resorting to silence. Not only does it sabotage the lifeline of a healthy coupling, it chokes your expressive needs.

When you can express what you’re feeling – in the moment that you’re experiencing it – there’s much less likelihood that you’ll act out on that feeling. Problematic feelings that go unexpressed tend to percolate and boil over – they take on energy of their own, and the ensuing conflict hours or days later may have little correlation to the original emotional insult. When this occurs there’s little chance of being validated, as there may be little correspondence between your hurt feelings and the disruption of the moment.

Telling someone that you feel angry, and explaining why you do, will ordinarily sever the reactive state of being angry or acting angrily. Furthermore, the non-verbalization and suppression of your feelings will – over time – result in substantial resentment, with the accompanying behavior that we might expect. If you don’t share your problematic feelings, there is a great probability that you’ll act out on them, in any number of unrelated ways. Having done so, you now become the problem in the other’s eyes. We’ve now entered into a negative spiral of silence and struggle

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.melschwartz.com/2014/01/13/silence-a-relationship-killer/

Overcoming Anxiety: Turning Your Thoughts Into Your Ally

Overcoming Anxiety

A LIVE Interactive Videoconference

Learn to turn your thoughts into your ally!

3 Wednesday evenings — 7:15-8:30 PM EDT — October 23 – November 6, 2013

Fee: $89.00 – To register, please visit http://melschwartz.com/UpcomingEvents.html

 

  • Do you compare yourself with others and worry what they think of you?
  • Is your thinking prone toward critical self-measuring?
  • Does fear control your life?
  • Do you struggle with self-esteem?
  • Are you afraid of making mistakes?

 

 

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Rethinking Anxiety

AnxietyPeople living in first-world, industrialized cultures are experiencing alarming rates of anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 40 million people per year in the US will succumb to this horrific malaise. These alarming numbers speak of an epidemic. Rather than simply acclimating to this malaise and medicating the symptoms of anxiety – which may have problematic if not damaging effects – we should first be asking why this avalanche of distress is occurring and, second, how we can overcome the underlying causes of anxiety. This article will fundamentally address the first question. In my next post, we’ll explore how we can overcome this malaise as I share some of the therapeutic methods that I employ to that end.

When a dysfunction such as anxiety – or depression, for that matter – becomes so commonplace, we must turn to our culture, which is our aggregate way of living, and examine how and why it’s producing such distress. Those suffering from anxiety are often simply mirroring an overwrought, anxiety-laden way of living. Turning the victim into the problem makes no sense at all. Such a preponderance of people suffering in this way must be a reflection of the effects of enduring an incongruous, if not insane, way of living, fostered by our prevailing worldview. In effect, the way that we are living produces this tragic result.

It is essential to address the underlying causes and not simply suppress the symptoms. The difficulty is that in our quick fix mentality, we believe that if we can quiet the symptoms, all is well. This may benefit the pharmaceutical-psychiatry industry, but not those so afflicted. We must come to see anxiety not as the enemy but as an expression of our struggle in adapting to a way of living that actually imperils us. From this vantage, anxiety is paradoxically sensible as we are reacting to conditions that are toxic. The anxiety can be seem similarly to a fever, which is simply a call to attention that all is not well. So the irony is that by medicating our symptoms away, we ensure continued suffering, for the struggle is never resolved toward a breakthrough; it is merely placated.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.melschwartz.com/2013/10/07/rethinking-anxiety/

Freeing Yourself from the Grip of Low Self-Esteem

self-esteem-wordleTo further our exploration of developing authentic self-esteem, I’m pleased to announce the launch of the Self-Esteem Workshop, a live, interactive videoconference, beginning Tuesday, August 13th.

In my previous articles in this series on self-esteem, we’ve considered how low self-worth surfaces as an array of psychological, emotional, and relationship challenges, and then we looked at how we misunderstand what we actually mean by self-esteem, seeking it in futile ways. We’ll now turn our attention to how we can free ourselves from the debilitating grip of self-denigrating beliefs and thoughts that script those lives tragically limited by low self-esteem.

I often assist my therapy clients in surfacing and articulating their core beliefs about themselves. Subtle or overt messages or treatment, typically in childhood, set up and mold our sense of self. Those who struggle with their self-worth have invariably secured negative imprints of themselves. These themes may play out in one’s head as “I’m not lovable,” or  “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m not smart enough,” or simply ”I’m a loser.” Once we internalize these messages, we integrate these beliefs deeply in our psyche. The beliefs become self-fulfilling. Our potential as human beings collapses and narrows as our limiting beliefs of self become our truth. And we act out our lives correspondingly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Introducing the Self-Esteem Workshop

 

The Self-Esteem Workshop

An Interactive, Live Videoconference

Beginning Tuesday, August 13th at 7pm EDT

 

Mel-SchwartzLow self-esteem can decimate your life and relationships. It can also manifest as anxiety, depression, or ADHD. Regardless of the form it takes, low self-esteem will certainly limit your life.

 

But it can be overcome.

 

To learn more about the Self-Esteem Workshop, please visit http://melschwartz.com/UpcomingEvents.html
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Self Esteem or Other Esteem?

woman-low-self-esteemIn my previous article, Self-Esteem: A Missed Diagnosis, I proposed that a devaluation of one’s self lies at the heart of most psychological and emotional disorders. Let’s now explore more deeply what the term self-esteem denotes and come to appreciate what we mean by it as well as what gets in our way of attaining it.

I have come to believe that the way the term self-esteem is used is actually a misnomer. The first half of the expression, self, would seem to indicate that esteem, the second half of the expression, is derived from one’s self. Yet if we look closer, we find that most people seek a sense of worthiness from that which lies outside of them. For a student, it might come from good grades; for a businessperson or worker, it’s derived from a promotion or a raise; and for most individuals, praise or acknowledgement provide a temporary increase in esteem. Our society generates billions of dollars in revenues from inducing people to seek the quick fix of vanity as a means toward feeling better. Yet none of these actually contribute one iota to self-esteem. Ironically, they may even get in the way.

  Read the rest of this entry »

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.melschwartz.com/2013/07/29/self-esteem-or-other-esteem-2/

Low Self-Esteem: A Missed Diagnosis

low self esteem

According to the National Institute of Health, one in every two Americans will ultimately be diagnosed with some form of mental illness. What’s behind this staggering rate of malaise? Aside from the psychiatric/pharmaceutical collusion that tends to overly pathologize normal life challenges and transmute them into mental illness, I’d offer that the primary culprit is low self-esteem. Yet the DSM – the psychiatric bible for diagnosis – offers no diagnosis of self-esteem. My experience informs me that marginal self-worth manifests through an array of dysfunction, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, ADHD, codependence, failed relationships and, even more tragically, lives lived out in mediocrity.

We focus on the more specific diagnosable illnesses that result from marginal self-worth because we have medications that treat them, notwithstanding their questionable results. But there is no pill to offer someone with low self-worth, so there’s no revenue to be generated. Moreover, as a culture, our intellectual proclivity is to focus on the symptom and disregard the underlying and perhaps complex circumstances that contribute to the devolving of a human life. This is due to our drive to over simplify and seek quick solutions to the very complex tapestry of a human life.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.melschwartz.com/2013/07/23/low-self-esteem-a-missed-diagnosis/

Dr. Peter Breggin, acclaimed psychiatrist and author, interviews Mel Schwartz

Mel-SchwartzJoin Dr. Peter Breggin, acclaimed psychiatrist and author of Toxic PsychiatryTalking Back to Prozac and Talking Back to Ritalin, as he interviews Mel on a range of provocative subjects ranging from the philosophy of science and psychology to pragmatic everyday approaches to improve our lives and our relationships.

“Mel Schwartz, a therapist, and for me a brilliant philosopher of science and psychology, brings Emergent Thinking to everything from how we envision the physical universe to how we can improve our lives and our marriages. Good listening; good stuff.”  
- Dr. Peter Breggin

You can visit Dr. Breggin’s site by clicking here.

Please be sure to “like” my Facebook page to see my quote of the day, follow me on Twitter, and join my LinkedIn network.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.melschwartz.com/2013/05/23/peter-breggin-acclaimed-psychiatrist-and-author-interviews-mel-schwartz/

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