How Science Can Improve Your Love Life

Thanks to Laura Schaefer for including me in her recent article for The Date Report.

http://www.thedatereport.com/dating/advice/8-ways-science-can-improve-your-relationship/

Here is an excerpt…

“One of the best tips I’ve seen recently from science having to do with improving relationships is the work on Active Constructive Responding,” says John Schinnerer, Ph.D., a positive psychology coach and anger management specialist in California. “One of the foremost researchers in the area of love and marriage is Shelly Gable, an assistant professor of psychology at UCLA. Gable looks to see how you respond when your spouse tells you [for example] that he’s just been promoted. An enthusiastic reaction such as ‘Wow! That’s tremendous. That’s the best thing I’ve heard all week. I’m sure there are more great things to come for you. You’ve definitely earned it. Congratulations!’ is called the active-constructive response. Couples who describe themselves as having a spouse who is active and constructive in response to their good news are more committed to the relationship, more in love, and happier in their marriage.”

For the full article, visit…

http://www.thedatereport.com/dating/advice/8-ways-science-can-improve-your-relationship/

Look for more info in an upcoming article in Self magazine in March of 2014!

All the best,

Dr. John Schinnerer
Positive Psychology Coach
Anger Management Specialist
Award-winning author of Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought (Visit GuideToSelf.com for your free PDF copy!)
Expert Consultant to Pixar’s Inside Out (due out June 2015)
Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.
913 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #280
Danville CA 94526
Positive psychology blog: http://drjohnblog.guidetoself.com 
Anger management blog:
http://WebAngerManagement.com
Twitter: @johnschin

Bored to Death While Waiting to Die – Stop Adapting, Start Living

The Cycle of Adaptation adapted from Perry Belcher’s Cycle of Boredom

John Schinnerer Ph.D.

Thanks for stopping by my positive psych blog (or maybe an anti-positive psychology blog given the title of today’s post!). As a way of saying thanks, I’d like to offer you a free PDF version of my first book on the latest positive psychology tools when you visit my site at www.GuideToSelf.com.

 

Are you tired of your job? Do you feel trapped in your relationship? Do you fear failure? Does it sometimes feel like you will never make it to the other side? Would you like more happiness?

If so, you are not alone.

Check this out. There is a cycle that we go through with everything in our life – jobs, spouses, relationships, cars, houses, clothes, everything.

Here is the cycle…

1) Interested

2) Excited

3) Safe & comfortable

4) Bored

5) Trapped

6) Despairing/Guilty

7) Seeking out new options or replacements

8) Fear of change

9) Fear of failure (stall out here if you’re unlucky)

10) Break through (if you’re lucky!)

One of the most interesting tenets in psychology is that of the hedonic treadmill…the idea that we adapt to change  – good or bad. You can win the lottery and adapt to those winnings within a year. You can suffer a bad car accident and lose the use of your limbs and most people adapt to that tragic situation.

Play around with this idea. You can apply it to every situation in your life. It’s amazing.

 

Remember…if you are not a master of your mind, you are a victim of it.

If you are not a master of your emotions, you are a victim of them.

 

Do not wait. Do not procrastinate. Take the risk on yourself. You deserve it. Start reading this blog now to reclaim your life and take the first step on the pathway to happiness.

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology Coach
Anger Management Specialist
Expert Consultant to Pixar
Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.
913 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #280
Danville CA 94526
Positive psychology blog: http://drjohnblog.guidetoself.com
Anger management blog:
http://WebAngerManagement.com
Twitter: @johnschin

Do Anxious Men Make Lousy Fathers? Happy Father’s Day?

From ScienceDaily (June 13, 2012) — Normally, male California mice are surprisingly doting fathers, but new research published in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology suggests that high anxiety can turn these good dads bad.

Unlike most rodents, male and female California mice pair up for life with males providing extensive parental care, helping deliver the pups, lick them clean, and keep them warm during their first few weeks of life. Experienced fathers are so paternal that they’ll even take care of pups that aren’t theirs. “If we place a male California mouse in a test cage and present it with an unknown pup, experienced fathers will quickly start to lick and huddle with it,” said Trynke de Jong, a post-doctoral researcher at University of California, Riverside.

Inexperienced males, on the other hand, aren’t always so loving. “Virgin males show more variability,” de Jong explained. “They may behave paternally, or they may ignore the pup, or even attack it. We want to understand what triggers these three behavioral responses in virgin males.”

De Jong and her colleagues thought this variability might have something to do with social status. In other species — including another rodent, Mongolian gerbils — dominant virgin males are more likely than subordinate ones to kill pups. Perhaps social status influences parenting in California mice as well.

To test this, de Jong and her colleagues paired up 12 virgin males in six enclosures, and performed several tests to see which was dominant. First was a food competition. “If a cornflake is dropped in the cage, the more dominant male will manage to eat most of it,” de Jong said. The researchers also observed each mouse’s urine marking. “Dominant males will make more, smaller, and more widespread marks than subordinate males,” said de Jong

After determining the mightier mouse in each pair, the team tested parental behavior by introducing a pup. Contrary to the hypothesis, scores on the dominance tests did not predict whether a male licked or huddled up to the pup. However, the research did turn up signs that anxiety, not status, plays a role in paternal behavior.

Males who shied away from urinating the middle of a new enclosure — a behavioral signal that a mouse is anxious — were slower to approach a pup. Further tests showed that less paternal males had higher levels of the vasopressin in their brains. Vasopressin is a hormone that is strongly associated with stress and anxiety.

“Our findings support the theory that vasopressin may alter the expression of paternal behavior depending on the emotional state of the animal,” de Jong said. She believes these results could shed light on the role of stress in paternal care in other mammals — including humans.

Peace,

John

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Positive Psychology Coach

Author of the award-winning Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion & Thought

Guide To Self, Inc.

913 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #280

Danville CA 94526

GuideToSelf.comWeb site

WebAngerManagement.com – 10-week online anger management course

DrJohnBlog.GuideToSelf.com –  Awarded #1 Blog in Positive Psychology by PostRank, Top 100 Blog by Daily Reviewer

@johnschinTwitter

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Depressed Men Often Trade Places with Spouse Per New Study

From ScienceDaily.com…

Depressed Man Depression in Men

‘Trading Places’ Most Common Pattern for Couples Dealing With Male Depression

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2011) — University of British Columbia researchers have identified three major patterns that emerge among couples dealing with male depression. These can be described as “trading places,” “business as usual” and “edgy tensions.”

Published in the Social Science & Medicine journal and led by UBC researcher John Oliffe, the paper details how heterosexual couples’ gender roles undergo radical shifts and strain when the male partner is depressed and the female partner seeks to help. Depression, a disorder often thought of as a women’s health issue, is underreported in men, and little is known about how heterosexual couples respond when the male partner is depressed.

“Overall, our study underscores how women play a key role in helping their male partners manage their depression,” says Oliffe, an associate professor in the School of Nursing whose work investigates masculinities and men’s health with a focus on men’s depression.

“Our findings suggest that gender relations are pivotal in how health decisions are made in families and for that reason, it’s important to understand couple dynamics if we want to have effective interventions.”

Oliffe and his UBC colleagues found that “trading places” is the most common pattern. In these relationships, the partners took on atypical masculine and feminine roles to cope with challenges caused by the men’s depression. For instance, men assumed the role of homemaker while the women became the family breadwinner.

Oliffe says, “Here, women partners also broke with feminine ideals in how they provided partner support by employing tough love strategies for self-protection and a means of prompting the men’s self-management of their depression.”

The second most common pattern is “business as usual,” when couples sought to downplay or mask any problems caused by the men’s depression. Holding firm to idealized heterosexual gender roles, the women continued to support and nurture their partners. Despite their ongoing struggles with depression, the men continued to work hard to maintain their careers in typically masculine arenas, which in the study included engineering, science, law enforcement, forestry and coaching.

The third pattern, “edgy tensions,” describes men and women caught in dysfunctional relationships. Each holding ideas of gender roles that differed from those of their partner, these couples grappled with resentment. The men resisted medical treatment. Instead, they used alcohol and illicit drugs, at least in part, to self-manage their depression. The women expressed ambivalence about conforming to the feminine ideal of being a “selfless nurturer,” especially for men who were volatile and unpredictable. The men in turn espoused a view of themselves as head of the household.

The study conducted qualitative analysis through in-depth interviews with 26 men, diagnosed or self identified as depressed, and their 26 partners, from Prince George, Kelowna and Vancouver. The study participants ranged in age from 20 to 53 years old. The duration of the couples’ relationships ranged from two months to 18 years; seven couples had children living at home.

The men self-identified as Anglo-Canadian, First Nations, European, Asian and Middle Eastern. Seven couples were in mixed ethnicity relationships. The men had varying levels of education ranging from some high school to graduate degrees; 14 of the 26 men were unemployed at the time of interview, and self-identified as being of low socio-economic status as a consequence.

This research received support through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Gender and Health.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of British Columbia.

Journal Reference:

John L. Oliffe, Mary T. Kelly, Joan L. Bottorff, Joy L. Johnson, Sabrina T. Wong. “He’s more typically female because he’s not afraid to cry”: Connecting heterosexual gender relations and men’s depression. Social Science & Medicine, 2011; 73 (5): 775 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.034

Going Through Divorce? Learn Self-Compassion for Best Outcome

As an individual who is currently going through divorce, I know firsthand the emotional distress that divorcees experience. Divorce brings up feelings of loss, sadness, anger, jealousy, grief, guilt, shame, embarrassment, and anxiety (to name but a few!).

How do I survive divorce?

All of these are normal feelings for one muddling through a divorce. While I have struggled at times with my divorce, overall it has gone better than I ever could have imagined. Yes, there have been days filled with depression. There have been moments of hopelessness. There are the occasional bouts of anger. Yet, on the whole, I greatly misjudged just how difficult the experience would be.

Self-Compassion is the Key to an Easier Divorce

Partly, this success is due to my having taught and practiced self-compassion for the past five years.

Self-compassion is basically being kind to yourself when things go badly. However, this is a greatly watered down version of self-compassion.

The goal is to treat yourself with the same type of kindness and compassion that most people extend to loved ones when they fail. When someone else makes a mistake, most people will react with some degree of kindness and understanding. Self-compassion turns down the volume on anger typically associated with huge mistakes while still maintaining your sense of personal responsibility. A 2007 study at Duke University found that ‘inducing self-compassion may disengage the relationship between taking responsibility and experiencing negative affect.’ This allows you to still take full responsibility for your mistakes while minimizing the amount of time that you spend beating yourself up as well as reduced the intensity of those ubiquitous destructive emotions I mentioned earlier.

The way in which you do this is to speak to yourself as if you were a three-year-old child. This allows for mistakes (which is a major path for learning), screw ups, and errors. Self-compassion is related to greater resiliency (the ability to bounce back from difficulty) which every divorcee can use.

New Study on Self-Compassion and Divorce 

A study is coming out this month in Psychological Science on the importance of self-compassion for those in the midst of a divorce. The authors, David Sbarra, Hillary Smith and Matthias Mehl, state ‘Self-compassion can promote resilience and positive outcomes in the face of divorce.’

The study compared self-compassion to other major traits, such as self-esteem, resistance to depression, realistic optimism, or social intelligence. The findings?

Self-Compassion Accurately Predicted Quickest Positive Outcome Following Divorce 

The only trait that consistently predicted positive outcomes following a divorce was self-compassion. That is amazing!

The study involved 105 participants (38 men and 67 women) with an average age of 40. They’d been married, on average, for 13 years and had been divorced for 3-4 months. The researchers had the participants call to mind their ex-spouse and then talk for four minutes about their thoughts and emotions related to the break up. This was done at three time points – initial visit, three months later and six to nine months later.  The researchers looked at the frequency of intrusive unpleasant thoughts, negative emotions related to the divorce and their ex and how well they were getting on with life since the break up.

Those participants with higher levels of self-compassion recovered from divorce faster and were doing better after the nine month period.

Dealing with Divorce Using Self-compassion

Self-compassion, according to my former Cal classmate, Kristin Neff, is a combination of mindfulness (being aware of feelings of jealousy and anger, for example, without getting stuck in them), an awareness of the interconnectedness of humanity (we all suffer at times), and self-kindness.

Self-compassion, in my opinion, is an integral part of positive psychology in the sense that it is rapidly showing itself to be an instrumental tool in any happy, thriving, meaningful life.

To find out more, check out my award-winning self-help book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought which is currently available for free at www.GuideToSelf.com.

If you are angry about your divorce, please visit my new video blog (vlog) at AngerGeek.com for free tips on how to turn down the volume on anger!

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

Award-winning author, award-winning blogger, national speaker, emotion expert