Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Fallacy

Assumption:  Other people see the world the way I do.

Corollary:  If they don’t, they should.

Oh, people may give lip service, and know that everyone has their own take on things.  But in their heart of hearts, most people assume other people see things the same way they do.  They certainly act as if that’s the case. 

But it ain’t necessarily so.  (And it gets us into lots of trouble to assume it is).  So take a moment.  Get your bearings and your take on things.  And then walk into the world with the expectation that you haven’t a clue where someone else is coming from, so you’ve got to pay close attention, keep an open mind, and really listen.  Just might learn something.

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash.  All rights reserved.


Making the Rounds on Wall Street…

The stimulus program, last fall’s Congress-approved financial rescue program, the administration asking Congress to authorize additional spending, bank stress tests, proposed energy plan revenues from selling permits to businesses, reserve fund for universal health care, deficits, billions, trillions, taxes on high income earners.  We got your money?  What do you think about it all?

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash.  All rights reserved.

The Angry Heart?

breakingheart1Another reason to deal with the stress of anger? The head-heart connection.  Results of a study of people with heart problems suggest a strong link between intense anger and sudden death.  Research conducted by Dr. Rachel Lampert of Yale University and reported in the current issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology studied patients with preexisting heart disease as they recounted something that had made them angry.  The findings?  Anger caused electrical changes, arrhythmias, in the heart.  People who showed this EKG ‘anger spike’ were 10 times more likely to have their defibrillators fire a life saving shock in the next three years than similarly ill patients whose hearts didn’t react to anger.

Studies to determine whether anger-reducing techniques help high-risk patients avoid irregular heartbeats are underway.  And this study didn’t address heart-healthy patients.  But maybe working on letting go of anger’s not a bad idea for all of us?  C’mon back soon for anger management class, ok?

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash.  All rights reserved.


Enough!  It’s too noisy, too much of the time!  The cab driver’s talking on his phone and you can’t turn off the noise-machine in the back.  You enter your apartment to tv’s blaring.  Even on a quiet walk in the country you still can’t get away from the cellphones.  Shhhh! Please!  Sometimes, I need a few moments of silence.  Don’t you?
Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash.  All rights reserved.

Stretched Too Thin? Lean On Them

Games with Grandfather, Alexander Hohenlohe Burr

Games with Grandfather, Alexander Hohenlohe Burr

So worried about your job – the one you just lost, are afraid of losing, or are barely holding onto while you do the work of two people – so worried you can’t give your kids enough attention?  So anxious it’s bleeding into your family and your kids are getting cranky, too?  Lean on G & G, Grandma and Grandpa. 
If you’re fortunate enough to have extended family (or honorary extended family), now’s a great time to enlist their assistance. 

Research published in the February issue of the Journal of Family Psychology suggests that spending time with a grandparent is linked with better social skills and fewer behavior problems among adolescents. 

1,515  11- to 16-year olds from over 1,000 schools reported that the more they talked to a grandparent about social and school activities, got advice or felt they could ask for money, the less hyperactive and disruptive they were.  They were also more likely to get along with their peers. The effect was even greater  in single parent or divorcing parent families. 

Lead author Attar-Schwartz, PhD, of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem:  “Grandparents are a positive force for all families but play a significant role in families undergoing difficulties…They can reduce the negative influence of parents separating and be a resource for children who are going through these family changes.”

If children and adolescents whose parents have separated or divorced see their grandparents as confidants and sources of comfort, maybe those stressed by their parents’ recession-related woes can, too?  Why not give it a try?  Reach out to G & G or Aunt Tilda as resources.  Encourage your kids to confide in another trusted adult.  For your sake – and your kids’. 

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash.  All rights reserved.

The No-Talking Cure

Thirty plus years of doing therapy has led me to conclude people do much better when they talk through their problems.  Talking about what’s difficult for you – and how and why – gives you perspective, helps you find more effective ways to cope, and lets you feel heard.

But talking about your “issues”  all the time is a terrible idea.  You’re worried about your portfolio, your clients leaving, your kids.  Your kids are worried about being popular, getting into college, a summer internship.  Sometimes, what you need is a break from talking or thinking about what’s worrying you.

So take one.  Every day.  Create a half-hour worry-free zone.  Half an hour each day when you don’t think or talk about whatever’s got you anxious.  Actively banish such thoughts by reminding yourself you can always worry later.  Actively focus your thoughts and the conversation on something – anything – you appreciate and can feel grateful for.  If you can’t think of anything, take a breath and really focus on feeling your breath.  And appreciate that.  Or remember you live in a free country.  statuelOr that you have someone, anyone, who loves you and who you love.  Make a list, take a moment, feel the good parts.  It’s a break you’ll come to cherish and a half-hour that will give you strength to carry on…

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

Soothe the Stress: 3 Minute Bathroom Meditation

Soothe the Stress:    A compendium of tips that work.  Try one, try ‘em all  

Maybe you did TM in college.  Maybe you’ve thought about a yoga and meditation retreat.  Maybe you’ve wanted to learn, but it seemed daunting.  Or too touchy-feely.  Or too time-consuming.  Or too spiritual or religious. 

Well have I got a meditation practice for you!  Not the definitive one, just another of my quick tips that work.  This one you can even do at work. 

If you’ve been making your way through the Soothe the Stress posts, the beginning steps are going to look familiar.  Great!  That mean’s you’re starting to get it and are on your way to making stress reduction a regular part of your life.   

So.  Find a restroom (on another floor, if possible.  You want privacy) and go into a stall.  Close and lock the door. Sit on top of the closed toilet, arms and legs uncrossed.   (This is called ‘sitting comfortably’).  Do not stifle your giggle at the whole situation.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Inhale to a slow count of 5.
  3. Exhale to a slow count of 5.
  4. Repeat 5 times. 
  5. Now imagine you are in a beautiful place:  a waterfallwaterfall, the mountains, mountainsyour pajamas in bed, wherever you’re really happy and peaceful.
  6. As you inhale to the slow count of 5, allow yourself to breathe in the essence of this place.
  7. As you exhale to the slow count of 5, let yourself fill up with happiness and peace.
  8. Repeat a few times, ending with an exhalation that fills you with happiness and peace.  And this time, tell yourself to bring that feeling back into the world with you, as you slowly open your eyes, stretch, smile (this is a bit funny, no?), and reenter your everyday life.
Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.