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Author Archives: Memo

Inside Out, Outside In

February 4th, 2014 | Posted by Memo in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

When we come across a person that is smiling, it makes us feel comfortable and it gives us a reason to trust the person.  Granted, just because a person smiles, that does not mean we should trust the person completely, it is only a single factor among many.  Smiling shows confidence and a sense of happiness, it shows that we are at ease with ourselves and others in our lives.  So, what goes on inside of us, affects what goes on outside.

Many times, we don’t want to be perceived as fake.  Many of us think that if we don’t feel confident or happy, then we don’t have a right to smile.  Research has shown, however, that one can work on the outside to make changes on the inside creating a more positive cycle.  That means that if we are upset or hopeless and we show an expression of being upset and hopeless, we will continue to feel upset and hopeless.  If we smile more often, this will help us feel happier and at ease which will translate into a more natural smile showing happiness which will translate into feeling happier.

Leading by Example

January 30th, 2014 | Posted by Memo in Children | Parenting - (0 Comments)

Sometimes we ask from others, including our children, to behave a certain way.  “Have manners, don’t disrespect the elder, share, don’t waste the water, don’t throw the trash on the floor, don’t be aggressive, don’t drink, don’t smoke” and so many others.  Yet, we might chew with our mouth open, be aggressive to others, drink, smoke, use foul language, etc.  It’s the old adage, “don’t do as I.”  But, can we realistically ask from others what we don’t expect to do?

If you think about  it, those expectations not only might be one sided, but they might be false expectations.  People, especially children, have a need of belonging and in order to be accepted, we tend to do as others do.  So a child that wants to be accepted by his father might curse as his father does and if his father punishes him for it, there might be confusion in the child but, unconsciously, his need of belonging might make him still do as his father does.  Food for thought.

Dreams to Reality

January 28th, 2014 | Posted by Memo in Children | Parenting - (0 Comments)

When it comes to your child’s dreams, are you helping or hindering?  One thing to remember is that for children, anything is possible.  Their life is full of fantasy and amazement.  Because of this innocence, it is very easy for them to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and all those imaginary characters.  Children want to laugh, imagine, and play.  We as adults, tend to take life too seriously and we kill our own expectations with doubt, uncertainty and pessimism.  Think of the last time you had doubt about a situation, you gave up and now look back with the thought of “what if?”  Imagine for a moment that you were able to live with a mentality of being able to obtain whatever you put your mind to and actually doing so?  Having that mentality is actually a sign of a high self-esteem.

Now, wouldn’t you want your kids to have a high self-esteem?  Work with your kids then.  When they tell you that they want to be an astronaut, tell them that anything’s possible.  Someone must have told the men that first stepped on the moon those words at least just once.

Do Unto Others, Empathy and Respect

January 24th, 2014 | Posted by Memo in Children | Couples | Parenting - (0 Comments)
I always think that if you look at anyone in detail, you will have empathy for them because you recognize them as a human being, no matter what they’ve done. – Andrea Arnold

Back in my Information Technology life, I worked for this company for what was probably two or three weeks.  My job was to set up an intraweb which is a way for computers inside a setting to connect to each other and share information through web browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer (bet you didn’t know that you would get information on things not psychology related here, huh? I’ll stop now.)  Jobs were scarce back then due to the economy and this sounded like my best option.  The owner of the company and hence, my boss, was a volatile man that barked instructions left and right and expected things to get done his way and right away.  I was still a student earning my bachelors degree, and I still had some things to learn about web programming.  While I knew many other things about computers, this was a first for me an I was on a learning curve.  I did express my limited knowledge during my interview and my boss said it was fine.

Because of this learning curve, my web sites were far from perfect.  Still, I was making improvements daily as I was learning.  The owner of the company was checking my work daily and telling me that my work was no good.  There was no constructive feedback and a lot of putdowns.  Within this time, I started to dread having to go to work more and more.  The owner started giving me more and more assignments and expecting me to work on this one.  I felt pressured left and right.  Not only that, but the workstation that I was working on was an older model and it was situated by a window with broken blinds and the sun was hitting me from behind four hours a day.  “Suit and tie,” he said, “you can’t take off your coat, we have an image to uphold!”

I tried to express that I felt overwhelmed and perhaps he could help out by understanding where I came from and perhaps taking it easier on me and his response was, “I treat everybody here the same way, and nobody complains.  If you don’t like it, you know where the door is!”  It was true that nobody complained, to his face, at least.  During lunch hour, his employees were talking left and right about how they hated working for this man, but they were afraid that they could not find another job and they just had to fess up and go to work.  One day, I got to work and tried to login to the machine and couldn’t.  The boss came by and told me in front of everyone else that he did not like my work and he had formatted the machine.  Just like that.  He said that I would have to start from scratch, turned around and left.  I felt disrespected, worthless, stepped on and humiliated.  I was so upset that I asked for the rest of the afternoon off.  The next day, I went to a computer lab at the university and asked for a job.  The following day, I went to Mr. Scrooge and quit.

If Mr. Scrooge had had empathy, other interpersonal skill notwithstanding, he would have earned the respect of his employees and not their fear.  His employees would have been happy at work and would have more than likely been more productive.  Empathy is the ability to experience the thoughts, emotions and feelings of others, or in layman’s terms, to put oneself in someone else’s shoes.  How are the other people feeling?  Would I feel the same way in the same situation?  For some people, empathy comes simpler than to others.  Perhaps, for some, it would be simpler to think of the Golden Rule, ”One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”  Would I want to be respected all the time by this person in front of others, and when alone?  If I was learning something new, would I want the person to give me some slack and give me some constructive criticism without ridiculing me?  Would I like my opinion to be valued?

Once I start thinking of how I would feel, I can start realizing how others are feeling.  Then I can understand their situation if I am lending an ear, and I can also start treating others more nicely as well.  Some say that empathy can’t be taught, but I disagree.  Empathy just takes a lot of practice.  Try it out today with your partner, kids, coworkers, teachers, students, etc. and practice it as often as possible until if becomes an unconscious reaction.  Better relationships will be built, you’ll see.

- Guillermo

Movies without Kids

January 21st, 2014 | Posted by Memo in Children | Parenting - (0 Comments)

Parentage is a very important profession, but no test of fitness for it is ever imposed in the interest of the children. – George Bernard Shaw

I am a movie buff and I love going to the movies and sitting in the dark watching a good story on a huge screen.  It has been hard to do lately because Hollywood seems to have a creativity blockage.  Still, I enjoy going to the movies.  During the summer of 2013, I remember two movie experiences in particular, Monsters University and Man of SteelMonsters University as you may be aware, is an animated Pixar film.  There were probably about 10 children in that movie theatre at the most.  At the showing of Man of Steel, an extremely violent film full of explosions and deaths, there were definitely more than 30.  Both theaters were jam packed.  Do you see anything wrong with this picture?  Over and over, I go to R, PG-13, and other films depicting violence and sexual situations, and there are children in the audience.

There are conflicting research results saying that media violence affect the young by making them violent in their own life.  Some say that the research does not account for variables such as mental health and family life.  There have even been documentaries such as Bowling for Columbine that state that not one single factor is the cause of so much violence in the United States, but all factors as a whole.  It might be true that that is the case, but it is also true that there is a diminished quality of parenting.

The world has changed enormously from the world that the now parents lived in.  There is easier access to information on the Internet, TV is more relaxed on the use of language, violence, sex, and nudity.  The music that we listen to today has foul language and the pop stars are very questionable as role models.  Some people cry for censorship, while others would like, rightly so, in my opinion, to have freedom of access to everything we choose to have access to.  The responsibility should not lie on our government, rather, there should be a shared responsibility on the media and parents, with parents having about 90% of the shared responsibility.

The media’s responsibility is to offer programming that has less violence and sex for the kids and not dressing up inadequate material as children and family programming.  Still, the parents should do more research on the TV, movie, video game, web site, book, song, etc. that the child is been exposed to.  There is the option of blocking several channels and movies that have certain ratings, and there is, of course, common sense of not watching or listening to this material in front of them.  Kids are kids, yet we think of them as little adults.  It is very important for us, as adults, to let them live their childhood and not making them grow up so quickly.

Parents need to do more parenting.  Period.  The TV was invented as an entertainment device, not as a nanny.  Dining tables were invented for sitting down at them and eating as a family.  Sometimes, as a parent, one should sacrifice the movie theater too for a cozy night watching a DVD while the child grows up.  Even better as a part of a healthy relationship and for one’s own enjoyment would be a decision to leave the kids with a sitter or family member every now and then and do the adult things without them, it might be more enjoyable anyway.

If you signed up willingly or not for life as a parent, you took on a responsibility to look after another being’s life and future.  There is no better person to do it than you, so choose wisely.

- Guillermo

What does QT stand for?

January 10th, 2014 | Posted by Memo in Children | Couples | Parenting - (0 Comments)
Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present. – Roger Babson

I was talking to a friend of mine that said he spent several hours a week with his wife and he still knew nothing about her.  When I asked him what kind of quality time they spent with each other, he mentioned the movies, watching TV, going to nightclubs and being out with friends.  Is that really quality time?

Think of all the people that you would like to know more from.  More than likely you’ll mention your partner, your kids, your siblings, your friends, etc.  The dictionary defines quality time as “time during which one focuses on or dedicates oneself to a person or activity.”  Another definition is, “an informal reference to time spent with close family, partners or friends that is in some way important, special, productive or profitable. It is time that is set aside for paying full and undivided attention to the person or matter at hand. It may also refer to time spent performing some favorite activity.”

What does that mean?  Well, let’s look at the example of watching TV or going to the movies.  Where is one’s attention at?  It is certainly not with our loved ones.  Is this productive for our communication?  Highly doubt it.  You might have a wonderful time watching the next superhero movie on the screen, but when are you learning about your partner, or your kids?  When are you finding out about their day, their likes and their lives?  This is not to say that all of your time has to be quality time.  Having a fun time watching the tube together is fun and is necessary for our health.  We should ask ourselves if there is a balance, though.

Well, the argument goes, times have changed.  No longer (if ever) is there a time where the family does many things together, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, think “Leave it to Beaver.”  Now, mom and dad work, not only dad, or in a one-parent household, the parent works a lot more.  Thing is, that because of our hectic lives where we need to run around from place to place and always be on the go, it is not as easy anymore.  Still, there might be a way for the family to have quality time even if it’s just for 30 minutes to an hour of dinner.  Try turning off the iPhones, iPads, and iWhatever it is that they come up with and just talk while sitting down at the dinner table.  Think of all the things that we could learn from one another.  Is your spouse having a tough time at work or at home and is acting a certain way because of that?  Are your kids surrounded by healthy kids or are they surrounded by drugs and gangs?

You’ll be surprised how a little time spent goes a long way towards prevention of failed relationships and bad outcomes in life.  My suggestion use it if possible once a day or more.  Sit down and enjoy yourselves, Super Mario and the Real Housewives of anywhere can wait.

- Guillermo

Habit Creation, New Year’s Style

January 7th, 2014 | Posted by Memo in Anger | Children | Couples | Parenting - (0 Comments)

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle

 

A few days ago, I was reading an El Paso Times article (online, of course, because who reads the newspaper anymore, right?) where one of their famous writers was telling people to give up on new year resolutions because most of them will fail anyway.  On a gym Facebook page, gym members were complaining that at the beginning of the year, the gym gets packed and it’s hard to exercise.  They were saying such things as, “Stay home, you’ll never lose the pounds” and “Why even bother? We won’t even see you after the Superbowl!”  Actually, a lot of people do give up way before the Superbowl is on the big screen in our living rooms.

Which brings a question to mind.  Should we listen to the naysayers because they are correct in saying that only a few people will succeed?  To me, it’s like telling our kids not to go to college because only a minority of El Pasoans graduate.  Isn’t that setting a glass ceiling there?  Follow the sheep and you’ll be alright.

We are full of old habits such as fighting at home, screaming in anger when we are frustrated, not being able to trust others, not being able to make a lifestyle change, and many others, that it seems impossible to do something different.  Creating a new habit takes a lot of time and effort, it’s not magic.  Yet we look for the magic pill in everything that we do and we put our time and effort into it hoping that we don’t have to do a thing.

Well, the magic pill doesn’t exist, but there is something else for us to choose that will help us even better.  It’s called perseverance.  Every habit can be changed, and most a small step at a time.  Persevering with the right strategy is the way to go because using the wrong strategy over and over will not do.

The time is now, you either follow the sheep like the naysayers say or you make your own path of living a life of happiness and harmony.  It is up to you and no one else.  Nobody can tell you that your marriage or family will fail or that you can’t come out of your shell.  Only you can dictate that.  Yes, the time is now.

Thank you for reading once again,

- Guillermo

 

New Year Resolutions: Good or Bad?

December 31st, 2013 | Posted by Memo in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you. - Les Brown

 

Year after year, many a resolution is made. To weight, to leave the cigarrettes in the past, to make my family a priority, to get along better with others, to let go of the resentments, etc. Yet only 8% of Americans keep their resolutions. This brings up the question then, is it worth making a resolution when we know we have a 92% chance of not making them a reality?

One issue with the resolutions that we set for ourselves is that the bar might be set too high. In order to keep them, we have to make sure that the end result is fulfilled at 100%, meaning that if my resolution was to lose 20 pounds, I will not be happy by losing even 19 pounds. Many of us may see this as a failure and give up our healthy lifestyle in disgrace.
A solution to this might be smaller goals instead of a large one. For example, one could set a resolution of losing 5 pounds, which is easier than 20, and when that goal is achieved, setting a goal of 5 more pounds. It is human nature that success brings us some happiness and it also makes us more determined. If one loses 5 pounds, then one could be excited about those other 5 pounds to come!
Another problem is that we usually go at it without some kind of support system. By doing so, we internalize everything and make decisions with only one point of view. When working for our goals, it is advisable to involve others as well. This includes family, friends and professionals, including counselors. By involving others, we feel the need to stay commited. Not only that, but as the saying goes, “two heads think better than one!” By having a counselor guide us, we are able to find more solutions to our problems and easier ways to get to our goals.
So, resolutions can be helpful, but it all depends on how you work with them and how you work for them. May 2014 bring you success, happiness and fulfillments.

Enjoy the journey!

- Guillermo

Thanking the New Beginnings

November 26th, 2013 | Posted by Memo in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Show no fear
For she may fade away…
In your hand
The birth of a new day…

- Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey “The Never Ending Story”

 

Have you ever felt that when things go bad you have a bad day and things get worse so your day gets worse?  It’s like a never ending cycle that keeps going forever and ever.  It seems impossible to stop thinking about how things are going wrong for us, doesn’t it?

“I woke up late, so I didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast.  I was rushing through traffic, but some people decide to go slow on the left lane of the highway.  I’m still hungry.  Finally made it to work to find that I have a new pile of projects waiting on my desk while I haven’t finished yesterday’s work!  My boss is mean to me, my wife is mean to me, even my dog seems to be indifferent now.  It’s freezing and I have an allergy.  It’s not even 9 o’clock yet and yes, I’m still hungry…..”

This is everyday life for some.  It even irritates us that Joe from the accounting department is mostly in a good mood.  How could he have no problems at all?  Who wouldn’t like to trade places with someone else for a day?

Well, maybe if we got to see what Joe is going through we could point out many troubles throughout his life.  Ailing mother, debts, a side business that didn’t make it, rusty pipes at home that would cost thousands of dollars to fix, etc.  How would we react?  Would we be able to be in a good mood?  Perhaps it’s not his life or even ours that makes a difference, perhaps is just us.  Could I have a bad moment during the day?  Definitely!  Should it make or break my day?  Well, that’s a different story and entirely up to you.

Changing a habit is not easy, any habit.  Having a bad day everyday or almost everyday is a habit worth changing.  Breaking the cycle of a mentality that could even affect our physical health.  Our job as mental health providers is to help the client out from a third person perspective, but everyone can begin the process at any point before even setting foot in our office.

One way to do it is to be thankful.  I have found that a list of gratitude sets the pace of change.  Maybe Joe is thankful for having many years of enjoying his now sick mother.  Maybe the business he had left him with accounting experience he’s able to use in his work.  He also seems to have a home where pipes need to be fixed, but it’s still a home.

Here’s today’s challenge.  Can you find things that you are grateful for?  If it does feel hard to, would you at least be able to be thankful for just waking up?  It’s a small step, and huge or tiny, a step is a step towards change.

Thanksgiving is here and it’s time to start to get rid of old unhealthy habits and creating new ones.  Learning to set our day instead of the situations doing so.  It’s never too late!

Thank you for reading this,

- Guillermo

10 Seconds, Explained

November 12th, 2013 | Posted by Memo in Anger - (0 Comments)

Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before – it takes something from him. – Louis L’Amour

 

When I was young(er), there was a commercial on the Mexican TV.  I’m not sure how many of you are old enough to remember or actually watched Mexican channels, but it was a commercial talking about anger control.

As I remember it, there was some man doing some kind of stressful activity and his careless son or daughter would come in and drop something on his work, whatever that was.  The man became furious!  He would turn around showing a closed fist and anger in his face and then the screen would flash while you could hear a beep and a voice telling you to count to 10.  After that, the dad would realize that his son had not messed his project up on purpose and that it was just accidental.  He explained calmly to his son that he should be more careful. They didn’t talk about consequences, but that’s for another blog entry.  Actually, false memories would be another great topic since I am not exactly sure that’s how the commercial actually was presented.

Behind all the cheesiness that an 80s commercial could give you, the message was correct, but the reasons were not fully explained.  It turns out that this was not a fluke after all.  There is a part of our brain called the frontal lobe which is in charge of our emotions, reasoning, problem solving, planning and some of our speech.  When we’re angry, the frontal lobe shuts down and that’s when some people explode!  The angrier we get, the more our frontal lobe shuts down and then we get even angrier.

Well, it turns out that it takes 10 seconds of further inactivity for our frontal lobe to be useful once again.  Inactivity means that we need to stop feeding that anger with more negative thoughts or even more stimulation.  Breathing is one way to stop feeding that anger.

For beginners, a way to do it could be to physically remove ourselves from a situation and with eyes closed, breath in very deeply while counting to 10 (or 50 in some cases).  The important part is to create a habit of awareness of what we do or say and not doing anything that we might regret.  Once we have created said habit, we could count to 10 right on the spot breathing very deeply with our eyes open or closed, our choice.

The more we are aware of our anger, the less we’ll hurt others and ourselves in a relationship of any kind, and the more we will be able to care for those we love.  So, the next time you begin to feel angry, remember about the cheesy commercial I told you about and count to 10 and enjoy.

- Guillermo