Friday, 30 August 2013

What Is It Parts Therapy And What Can It Be Used For?

Imagine for a moment that you are standing on a stage in a dark auditorium. The spotlight is on you. You can’t really see much of anything. But you can hear the crowd. Now, let the spot light scan over the crowd. You can see them, spread out before you, cheering you on! You can hear their screams of delight and adoration.

Well, okay, maybe that’s a stretch… But it’s a great analogy for what’s really going on inside of you. Your conscious mind is the one that gets all the attention. It’s the part of us that we think of when we refer to ourselves as “me.” But that is not even the tip of the iceberg. Your conscious mind is but a small part of you. The rest of you takes care of the mundane work of keeping your heart pumping, digesting food, maintaining blood pressure, blood sugar, hormone levels, and so forth. And that’s just the physical aspects, not to mention all the cognitive functions.

The mind has a truly stunning ability to anthropomorphize anything. What’s so stunning about it is, when you give something a face, or a body, or a being, your mind naturally ties the things together. Once tied together, the image that you see in your mind can tell you things about the reality that it represents. And if you change the object or person, you change the underlying reality that it represents!

What this means is that you can give a part of you a face and a voice, then converse with that “part” of you, and learn from it, and negotiate with it, and convince it to change. Once you are successful at getting the image of that “part” to change, it actually changes whatever underlies that part!

The parts may not always be anthropomorphized. You can give an idea a face, or you can let it take the form of an animal. Or you can create a “control panel” or “gauges” that represents and offers access to the physical systems of the body. For example:

Trying to lose weight? Imagine a gauge. Now imagine that the gauge represents your body’s blood sugar level. Know that if the needle ever points straight down, you are dead, because there is no energy in your blood, not even pulled from stored fat reserves or stolen from muscles. And if the needle is pointing straight up, you are probably experiencing brain damage, and about dead, because there is just too much sugar in your blood. Know that there is an ideal range, where your body and mind function at peak performance. In that range, you will neither gain weight, nor lose weight. In that range, your metabolism will ramp up, and you will feel fantastic. Now, imagine that the gauge has a green band that represents where the needle would need to point to be in that optimum range. Now imagine another range, marked with some other color, such as yellow, or white, which represents the optimum weight loss range. It is just a bit lower than the bottom of the green band. It is a much narrower band, too, most likely. Now, make a note: where does your needle point right now? If you were my client, I would also walk you through the process of setting alarms on either side of the weight-loss zone, and making associations for what to do when the alarms go off, and how to re-calibrate the gauge every time you use it. But you get the point.

Or maybe you are struggling with feelings of inadequacy, or nagging thoughts. Stop for a moment, and pay some attention to those thoughts. If those thoughts were a person, what would their voice sound like? What would they look like? Young, or old? Male, or female? Strong, or weak? Who do you know that might say things like that? Whether it is someone in your life, or someone you imagine? Take some time to really strengthen the image by making note of all the details, such as color of the eyes, shape of the face, hair color and style and length, clothing, height, gestures and body language, everything about them. Sounds like your mother? Great! What is your mother wearing? What is the expression on her face? Now start with yes or no questions, and watch everything about the image to see how it changes as you ask the questions. “Are you the one that is giving me those nagging thoughts?” “You have my best interests at heart, don’t you?” Once you have established an ability to get simple yes or no answers from the “part” you can work your way up to more complex communication. Try asking questions where the answer is an emotion, and watch them for the answer to appear in their appearance or behavior or the sounds that they make. Questions like “How does it make you feel when I do this?” “How would it make you feel if I did that?” Finally, graduate up to letting the image speak to you. “Okay, Mom, what EXACTLY is it you want me to do?” Then, once you have identified exactly what she wants, you can then proceed to talk to her about what you want, and see if you can’t come to an understanding. Come up with a plan of action that satisfies you and her. And even though you were just talking to a figment of your imagination, an amazing side-effect happens: The nagging voice disappears!

Parts therapy is a very valuable way of getting at your own inner wisdom, as well as affecting changes in your life. Give it a try! See where it leads you. It may feel strange at first, but get over it! The rewards will outweigh any sense of silliness you have about talking to yourself like that!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

VIDEO Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

23 SIgns You Are An Introvert

Think you can spot an introvert in a crowd? Think again. Although the stereotypical introvert may be the one at the party who's hanging out alone by the food table fiddling with an iPhone, the "social butterfly" can just as easily have an introverted personality.

"Spotting the introvert can be harder than finding Waldo," Sophia Dembling, author of "The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World," tells The Huffington Post. "A lot of introverts can pass as extroverts."

People are frequently unaware that they’re introverts -– especially if they’re not shy -- because they may not realize that being an introvert is about more than just cultivating time alone. Instead, it can be more instructive to pay attention to whether they're losing or gaining energy from being around others, even if the company of friends gives them pleasure.

“Introversion is a basic temperament, so the social aspect -- which is what people focus on -- is really a small part of being an introvert," Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, psychotherapist and author of "The Introvert Advantage," said in a Mensa discussion. "It affects everything in your life.”

Despite the growing conversation around introversion, it remains a frequently misunderstood personality trait. As recently as 2010, the American Psychiatric Association even considered classifying "introverted personality" as a disorder by listing it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), a manual used to diagnose mental illness.

But more and more introverts are speaking out about what it really means to be a "quiet" type. Not sure if you're an innie or an outie? See if any of these 23 telltale signs of introversion apply to you.

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
Introverts are notoriously small talk-phobic, as they find idle chatter to be a source of anxiety, or at least annoyance. For many quiet types, chitchat can feel disingenuous.

“Let's clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people," Laurie Helgoe writes in "Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength." "We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”

2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.

If you're an introvert, you may sometimes enjoy going to parties, but chances are, you're not going because you're excited to meet new people. At a party, most introverts would rather spend time with people they already know and feel comfortable around. If you happen to meet a new person that you connect with, great -- but meeting people is rarely the goal.

3. You often feel alone in a crowd.

Ever feel like an outsider in the middle of social gatherings and group activities, even with people you know?

"If you tend to find yourself feeling alone in a crowd, you might be an introvert," says Dembling. "We might let friends or activities pick us, rather than extending our own invitations."

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.
Networking (read: small-talk with the end goal of advancing your career) can feel particularly disingenuous for introverts, who crave authenticity in their interactions.

"Networking is stressful if we do it in the ways that are stressful to us," Dembling says, advising introverts to network in small, intimate groups rather than at large mixers.

5. You've been called "too intense."

Do you have a penchant for philosophical conversations and a love of thought-provoking books and movies? If so, you're a textbook introvert.

"Introverts like to jump into the deep end," says Dembling.

6. You're easily distracted.
While extroverts tend to get bored easily when they don't have enough to do, introverts have the opposite problem -- they get easily distracted and overwhelmed in environments with an excess of stimulation.

"Extroverts are commonly found to be more easily bored than introverts on monotonous tasks, probably because they require and thrive on high levels of stimulation," Clark University researchers wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "In contrast, introverts are more easily distracted than extroverts and, hence, prefer relatively unstimulating environments."

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.
One of the most fundamental characteristics of introverts is that they need time alone to recharge their batteries. Whereas an extrovert might get bored or antsy spending a day at home alone with tea and a stack of magazines, this sort of down time feels necessary and satisfying to an introvert.

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.

Introverts can be excellent leaders and public speakers -- and although they're stereotyped as being the shrinking violet, they don't necessarily shy away from the spotlight. Performers like Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Emma Watson all identify as introverts, and an estimated 40 percent of CEOs have introverted personalities. Instead, an introvert might struggle more with meeting and greeting large groups of people on an individual basis.

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle.
Whenever possible, introverts tend to avoid being surrounded by people on all sides.

"We're likely to sit in places where we can get away when we're ready to -- easily," says Dembling. "When I go to the theater, I want the aisle seat or the back seat."

10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.
Do you start to get tired and unresponsive after you've been out and about for too long? It's likely because you’re trying to conserve energy. Everything introverts do in the outside world causes them to expend energy, after which they'll need to go back and replenish their stores in a quiet environment, says Dembling. Short of a quiet place to go, many introverts will resort to zoning out.

11. You're in a relationship with an extrovert.
It's true that opposites attract, and introverts frequently gravitate towards outgoing extroverts who encourage them to have fun and not take themselves too seriously.

"Introverts are sometimes drawn to extroverts because they like being able to ride their 'fun bubble,'" Dembling says.

12. You'd rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.
The dominant brain pathways introverts use is one that allows you to focus and think about things for a while, so they’re geared toward intense study and developing expertise, according to Olsen Laney.

13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.
Because really, is anything more terrifying?

14. You screen all your calls -- even from friends.
You may not pick up your phone even from people you like, but you’ll call them back as soon as you’re mentally prepared and have gathered the energy for the conversation.

"To me, a ringing phone is like having somebody jump out of a closet and go 'BOO!,'" says Dembling. "I do like having a long, nice phone call with a friend -- as long as it's not jumping out of the sky at me."

15. You notice details that others don't.
The upside of being overwhelmed by too much stimuli is that introverts often have a keen eye for detail, noticing things that may escape others around them. Research has found that introverts exhibit increased brain activity when processing visual information, as compared to extroverts.

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.
“Extroverts don’t have the same internal talking as we do,” says Olsen Laney. “Most introverts need to think first and talk later."

17. You have low blood pressure.
A 2006 Japanese study found that introverts tend to have lower blood pressure than their extroverted counterparts.

18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.
Introverts observe and take in a lot of information, and they think before they speak, leading them to appear wise to others.

"Introverts tend to think hard and be analytical," says Dembling. "That can make them seem wise."

19. You don't feel "high" from your surroundings
Neurochemically speaking, things like huge parties just aren’t your thing. Extroverts and introverts differ significantly in how their brains process experiences through "reward" centers.

Researchers demonstrated this phenomenon by giving Ritalin -- the ADHD drug that stimulates dopamine production in the brain -- to introverted and extroverted college students. They found that extroverts were more likely to associate the feeling of euphoria achieved by the rush of dopamine with the environment they were in. Introverts, by contrast, did not connect the feeling of reward to their surroundings. The study "suggests that introverts have a fundamental difference in how strongly they process rewards from their environment, with the brains of introverts weighing internal cues more strongly than external motivational and reward cues," explained LiveScience's Tia Ghose.

20. You look at the big picture.
When describing the way that introverts think, Jung explained that they're more interested in ideas and the big picture rather than facts and details. Of course, many introverts excel in detail-oriented tasks -- but they often have a mind for more abstract concepts as well.

"Introverts do really enjoy abstract discussion," says Dembling.

21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”
Many introverted children come to believe that there's something "wrong" with them if they're naturally less outspoken and assertive than their peers. Introverted adults often say that as children, they were told to come out of their shells or participate more in class.

22. You’re a writer.
Introverts are often better at communicating in writing than in person, and many are drawn to the solitary, creative profession of writing. Most introverts -- like "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling -- say that they feel most creatively charged when they have time to be alone with their thoughts.

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.
Introverts can move around their introverted “set point” which determines how they need to balance solitude with social activity. But when they move too much -- possibly by over-exerting themselves with too much socializing and busyness -- they get stressed and need to come back to themselves, according Olsen Laney. This may manifest as going through periods of heightened social activity, and then balancing it out with a period of inwardness and solitude.

"There's a recovery point that seems to be correlated with how much interaction you've done," says Dembling. "We all have our own private cycles."

Sunday, 25 August 2013

10 Unusual Hypnotherapy Stories

Chicken Nuggets 
After 18 years of eating nothing but chicken nuggets and chips, a student was last year weaned off her unhealthy diet by a hypnotherapist and started to eat vegetables and pasta. Since she was two-years-old Carla Laban was violently sick after every meal unless it was chicken nuggets, but now she is starting to enjoy other foods.
Hypnotherapy may be able to cure irritable bowel syndrome after trials showed it has a 70 per cent success rate. Doctors claim the mind relaxing technique combats the condition, which causes constipation, diarrhoea, cramps and nausea. The treatment is so successful that there is an 18-month waiting list of people lining up to try the therapy at Manchester's Wythenshawe Hospital.
According to Australian psychologist Dr Janet Hall hypnosis can help cure women of sex phobias such as the fear of sperm and vaginismus, a fear of intercourse. "I've found that with hypnosis you can get them to rehearse the sex act in the safety of their own imagination," Dr Hall told a conference in Sydney.
Last year a man who could not afford a dentist's bill had two rotten teeth and roots removed without an anaesthetic, thanks to hypnosis. Leslie Mahon from Colchester said: "It was incredible. There is no worse pain than that inflicted by dentists but I didn't feel any.”
A woman who was so sacred of fruit that she couldn't bear to have a fruit bowl in the house was cured of the bizarre phobia through a session of hypnotherapy. “I'm now able to peel an apple and a banana for my children and I feel really proud that I actually have a fruit bowl in the house," she said after the treatment. "I used to worry about passing my phobia on, but luckily it has had the opposite effect - the kids adore fruit.”
Using Twitter to get rid of writer’s block is a technique being used by Berkshire-based hypnotherapist Tom Evans. In just 13 minutes, Tom claims he can show you how you can use the 140 characters of Twitter and a blog to structure and write a whole book.
After answering an advert appealing for phobics to come forward for a TV programme, a woman from Essex had her irrational fear of maggots cured. Before the therapy she made her fisherman husband strip off and shower outside after fishing trips and feared that maggots were targeting her house. "My phobia was really affecting my life,” she said. “Every day I would worry that I would hear the word or see one. I've even got a jar of Robert's maggots in my fridge now."
Learning to drive 
Back in 2006 a Norfolk driving school become the first in the country to offer hypnotherapy to help nervous learners pass their tests. Kimberley Mercer, the driving school’s hypnotherapist, said: “It is the little voice inside them I speak to and I turn around those negative thoughts.”
Smoking and Scampi Fries 
30-a-day smoker Darren Corbett had his cigarette cravings cured by a hypnotist at his local pub, but ended up with an addiction to seafood-flavoured snack Scampi Fries instead. He now spends £11 a day on them, almost twice as much as he used to spend on ciggies. “When my mates go outside for a smoke, I sit inside and munch,” said Corbett.
Hypnotherapy may be able to solve all of the problems above, but it can’t cure everything. A musician who hiccupped more than 10million times over two years tried hypnosis among other wacky treatments to solve the problem but to no avail. “I am still on the journey to find a cure for my hiccups,” said Mr Sands after having keyhole surgery on a damaged stomach valve in a further attempt to cure the hiccupping.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Legalisation Of Marijuana Debate: Good Or Bad For A Healthy State Of Body And Mind?

I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot."

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now. I didn't look far enough. I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have "no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse."

They didn't have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.

I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana.

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that. I hope this article and upcoming documentary will help set the record straight.

On August 14, 1970, the Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Roger O. Egeberg wrote a letter recommending the plant, marijuana, be classified as a schedule 1 substance, and it has remained that way for nearly 45 years. My research started with a careful reading of that decades old letter. What I found was unsettling. Egeberg had carefully chosen his words:

"Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marijuana be retained within schedule 1 at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue."

Not because of sound science, but because of its absence, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 substance. Again, the year was 1970. Egeberg mentions studies that are underway, but many were never completed. As my investigation continued, however, I realized Egeberg did in fact have important research already available to him, some of it from more than 25 years earlier.

High risk of abuse

In 1944, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia commissioned research to be performed by the New York Academy of Science. Among their conclusions: they found marijuana did not lead to significant addiction in the medical sense of the word. They also did not find any evidence marijuana led to morphine, heroin or cocaine addiction.

We now know that while estimates vary, marijuana leads to dependence in around 9 to 10% of its adult users. By comparison, cocaine, a schedule 2 substance "with less abuse potential than schedule 1 drugs" hooks 20% of those who use it. Around 25% of heroin users become addicted.

The worst is tobacco, where the number is closer to 30% of smokers, many of whom go on to die because of their addiction.

There is clear evidence that in some people marijuana use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety and nausea. Even considering this, it is hard to make a case that it has a high potential for abuse. The physical symptoms of marijuana addiction are nothing like those of the other drugs I've mentioned. I have seen the withdrawal from alcohol, and it can be life threatening.

I do want to mention a concern that I think about as a father. Young, developing brains are likely more susceptible to harm from marijuana than adult brains. Some recent studies suggest that regular use in teenage years leads to a permanent decrease in IQ. Other research hints at a possible heightened risk of developing psychosis.

Much in the same way I wouldn't let my own children drink alcohol, I wouldn't permit marijuana until they are adults. If they are adamant about trying marijuana, I will urge them to wait until they're in their mid-20s when their brains are fully developed.

Medical benefit

While investigating, I realized something else quite important. Medical marijuana is not new, and the medical community has been writing about it for a long time. There were in fact hundreds of journal articles, mostly documenting the benefits. Most of those papers, however, were written between the years 1840 and 1930. The papers described the use of medical marijuana to treat "neuralgia, convulsive disorders, emaciation," among other things.

A search through the U.S. National Library of Medicine this past year pulled up nearly 20,000 more recent papers. But the majority were research into the harm of marijuana, such as "Bad trip due to anticholinergic effect of cannabis," or "Cannabis induced pancreatitits" and "Marijuana use and risk of lung cancer."

In my quick running of the numbers, I calculated about 6% of the current U.S. marijuana studies investigate the benefits of medical marijuana. The rest are designed to investigate harm. That imbalance paints a highly distorted picture.

The challenges of marijuana research

To do studies on marijuana in the United States today, you need two important things.

First of all, you need marijuana. And marijuana is illegal. You see the problem. Scientists can get research marijuana from a special farm in Mississippi, which is astonishingly located in the middle of the Ole Miss campus, but it is challenging. When I visited this year, there was no marijuana being grown.

The second thing you need is approval, and the scientists I interviewed kept reminding me how tedious that can be. While a cancer study may first be evaluated by the National Cancer Institute, or a pain study may go through the National Institute for Neurological Disorders, there is one more approval required for marijuana: NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is an organization that has a core mission of studying drug abuse, as opposed to benefit.

Stuck in the middle are the legitimate patients who depend on marijuana as a medicine, oftentimes as their only good option.

Keep in mind that up until 1943, marijuana was part of the United States drug pharmacopeia. One of the conditions for which it was prescribed was neuropathic pain. It is a miserable pain that's tough to treat. My own patients have described it as "lancinating, burning and a barrage of pins and needles." While marijuana has long been documented to be effective for this awful pain, the most common medications prescribed today come from the poppy plant, including morphine, oxycodone and dilaudid.

Here is the problem. Most of these medications don't work very well for this kind of pain, and tolerance is a real problem.

Most frightening to me is that someone dies in the United Statesevery 19 minutes from a prescription drug overdose, mostly accidental. Every 19 minutes. It is a horrifying statistic. As much as I searched, I could not find a documented case of death from marijuana overdose.

It is perhaps no surprise then that 76% of physicians recentlysurveyed said they would approve the use of marijuana to help ease a woman's pain from breast cancer.

When marijuana became a schedule 1 substance, there was a request to fill a "void in our knowledge." In the United States, that has been challenging because of the infrastructure surrounding the study of an illegal substance, with a drug abuse organization at the heart of the approval process. And yet, despite the hurdles, we have made considerable progress that continues today.

Looking forward, I am especially intrigued by studies like those in Spain and Israel looking at the anti-cancer effects of marijuana and its components. I'm intrigued by the neuro-protective study by Lev Meschoulam in Israel, and research in Israel and the United States on whether the drug might help alleviate symptoms of PTSD. I promise to do my part to help, genuinely and honestly, fill the remaining void in our knowledge.

Citizens in 20 states and the District of Columbia have now voted to approve marijuana for medical applications, and more states will be making that choice soon. As for Dr. Roger Egeberg, who wrote that letter in 1970, he passed away 16 years ago.

I wonder what he would think if he were alive today.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

How Graphology Experts Analyse Handwriting

Graphology - the study of handwriting and handwriting analysis - is now an accepted and increasingly used technique for assessment of people in organizations. Handwriting analysis is an effective and reliable indicator of personality and behaviour, and so is a useful tool for many organizational processes, for example: recruitment, interviewing and selection, team-building, counselling, and career-planning.

This is a free introductory guide to graphology, and a free handwriting analysis tool pdf download, with examples of techniques that graphologists and handwriting analysis experts use to analyse a person's personality from a sample of handwriting.

This free article is contributed by Elaine Quigley BA Hons., MBIG Dip, a leading expert graphologist, and chair of the British Institute of Graphologists.

Elaine describes graphology as 'brainwriting' - the handwriting comes directly from the writer in a uniquely personal and individual way, irrespective of how the person has been taught to write: an expert graphologist understands the styles of the different countries and languages and makes allowances for 'taught' influences. Also largely irrelevant to the actual analysis is the content of the written text.

The science of graphology uses at least 300 different handwriting features in its investigative approach. The graphologist's interpretation skill is in the psychological art of understanding the particular blend of handwriting features - an expert is able to see the writer 'step off the page'.

graphology theory and history

A person's handwriting - the script - and its placing on the page express the unique impulses of the individual: logically, the brain sends signals along the muscles to the writing implement they control. By examining a handwriting sample, an expert graphologist is able to identify relevant features of the handwritten script, and the way the features interact. The features, and interaction between them, provide the information for the analysis. (No single handwriting sample will exhibit all 300 different features of course - a typical analysis will involve far less).

No single handwriting feature proves anything specific or absolute by itself; a single feature alone can only identify a trend. It is the combination of features, and the interaction between them that enable a full and clear interpretation.

Graphology is actually a very old and respected science - the study of handwriting and its analysis was first developed by the Chinese 3,000 years ago. The Romans used graphology, and through the centuries since then various civilisations and cultures have analysed handwriting to identify the essence of the person who produced it.

The modern approach to handwriting analysis was established by a group of French clerics, led by Abbe Michon, who defined key aspects of the science in the 1870s, after 30 years of study. This work formed the basis of modern graphology, although the science is still being researched and expanded today.

Professional graphologists operate to a strict code of ethics, and these experts are constantly in demand; those who use it recognise its value in the workplace as an additional method of understanding character. It is therefore an extremely useful tool in identifying the quality and capacity of an individual's talents and potential, particularly in career guidance and improving relationships. Like other powerful behavioural or intuitive models, it is not easy to explain how and why graphology works, nevertheless it continues to be used, respected and appreciated by many because it achieves a high level of results.

graphology - an introductory guide to handwriting features
As previously stated there are around 300 features - this introductory article attempts to explain some of the basic ones that can be readily understood and which give interesting information.


Right slant indicates a response to communication, but not how it takes place. For example, the writer may wish to be friendly, manipulative, responsive, intrusive, to sell, to control, to be loving, supportive, just to name some possibilities.

If the handwriting is generally upright, this indicates independence.

A left slant tendency shows emotion and reserve. This writer needs to be true to self first and foremost and can be resentful if others try to push for more commitment from them.

Handwriting is made up of three zones - or cases - middle, upper and lower. A basic average measure - or benchmark - by which size can be judged is 3mm per zone. This gives a benchmark for a non-remarkable full height of 9mm. More than this is large; less than this is small.

Large size handwriting can mean extravert and outgoing, or it can mean that the writer puts on an act of confidence, although this behaviour might not be exhibited to strangers.

Small size can, logically, mean the opposite. Small size handwriting can also indicate a thinker and an academic, depending upon other features in the script.

If the writing is small and delicate, the writer is unlikely to be a good communicator with anyone other than those on their own particular wavelength. These people do not generally find it easy to break new ground socially.


Heavy pressure indicates commitment and taking things seriously, but if the pressure is excessively heavy, that writer gets very uptight at times and can react quickly to what they might see as criticism, even though none may have been intended. These writers react first and ask questions afterwards.

Light pressure shows sensitivity to atmosphere and empathy to people, but can also, if the pressure is uneven, show lack of vitality.
upper zone or case (as in l, t, h, etc)

Tall upper strokes are reaching towards goals and ambitions or, if they are very extended, there may be unrealistic expectations of what the person feels they must achieve.

If there are reasonably proportioned upper zone loops, this indicates someone who likes to think things through and use their imagination in a sensible way. Wider upper zone loops indicate more of a tendency to dream up ideas and mull them over.

If the up-stroke goes up and then returns on top of itself, the writer may be squeezing out imagination and keeping to the basic requirement of getting down to the job in hand.
lower zone (as in g, y, p, etc)

Lower loops are also varied and have different meanings.

For example a straight stroke shows impatience to get the job done.

A 'cradle' lower stroke suggests an avoidance of aggression and confrontation.

A full loop with heavy pressure indicates energy/money-making/sensuality possibilities, subject to correlation with other features.

A full lower loop with light pressure indicates a need or wish for security.

If there are many and varied shapes in the lower zone, the writer may feel unsettled and unfocused emotionally. Again the handwriting analyst would look for this to be indicated by other features in the script.
word spacing

The benchmark by which to judge wide or narrow spacing between words is the width of one letter of the person's handwriting.

Wide spaces between words are saying - 'give me breathing space'.

Narrow spaces between words indicate a wish to be with others, but such writers may also crowd people and be intrusive, notably if the writing lacks finesse.
line spacing

Handwriting samples are always best on unlined paper, and particularly for exhibiting line-spacing features.

Wide-spaced lines of handwriting show a wish to stand back and take a long view.

Closely spaced lines indicates that that the writer operates close to the action. For writers who do this and who have writing that is rather loose in structure, the discipline of having to keep cool under pressure brings out the best in them.
page margins

The sides of the page each have a meaning.

The left side margin shows the roots and beginnings/family.

The right side shows other people and the future.

The top is goals and ambitions.

The foot of the page shows energy, instincts and practicality.

Therefore margins are very informative.

If the writer has a wide left margin, the interest is in moving on. If it is narrow, caution and wanting to avoid being pushed before they are ready is indicated.

Narrow right margin shows impatience and eagerness to get out there and on with things.

Wide right margin shows that there may be some fear of the unknown.
middle zone or case (as in a, c, e, etc)

These middle zone shapes can give some particularly interesting information.

The middle zone in the script represents the ego - from it we get a lot of information as to how the writer feels and acts in public settings - what makes them tick socially and at work.

Some people's handwriting consists of only one single style, but many people will have a mixture of two handwriting styles or more.

Again this provides useful information.

All of these features have potentially positive and negative connotations; the analyst uses the flow and facility (ease, smoothness) of the script to infer a positive or negative interpretation.

This means that the middle zone of the writing is humped and rounded at the top like a series of arches. It is in the basic style of copy-book, though it is not taught in all schools. Writers who use this can be loyal, protective, independent, trustworthy and methodical, but negatively they can be secretive, stubborn and hypocritical when they choose. The most important characteristic is group solidarity against outsiders.

Garland is like an inverted 'arcade' and is a people-orientated script. These writers make their m's, n's and h's in the opposite way to the arcade writer, like cups, or troughs, into which people can pour their troubles or just give information. The Garland writer enjoys being helpful and likes to be involved.

Angled middle zone is the analytical style, the sharp points, rather than curves, give the impression of probing. The angle writer, is better employing talents at work and for business or project purposes, rather than nurturing, which is the strength of the garland writer.

As with any indicators of personality style, the interpretation doesn't mean that each writer needs to be categorised and prevented or dissuaded from spreading their talents and interests, but the analysis can helpfully show where the person's strengths can be best employed.

Thread handwriting is like unravelled wool, waiting to be made up into something fresh. These writers are mentally alert and adaptable, but can also be elusive and lack patience. They are responders, rather than initiators. They can be very clever at drawing together strands of information and making something of them. Therefore they observe and bide their time, so that decisions are made at the most appropriate moment.

Wavyline handwriting is often an amalgam of all or most of the other forms and is usually written by people who are mentally mature and skilful. It shows that they can call on a variety of responses, to suit the occasion and indicates good coping mechanisms. They are adaptable and resourceful.

These features and interpretations provide a small but useful guide as to the way people behave, and particularly how they handle their social requirements. Check your own handwriting against these pointers to see what you can learn or confirm about yourself, and see also how effective even just a few simple graphology techniques can be in revealing personality style.

Understanding the personality through handwriting is a valuable way of making the best of both personal awareness and interpersonal situations for the benefit of all concerned.

The aim in using graphology to analyse a person's handwriting must always be positive. The interpretation should enable people analysed to use the understanding gained, to help them live their lives to the highest level of satisfaction that they choose. In a professional or organizational context, graphology can play an important part in enabling working relationships to be forged that will enhance the quality of the group or team performance.

As a child you were taught to write, but it's not likely that you still write in the way you were taught. The fact that you don't helps to explain the reason graphology exists and why graphology can be used to interpret personality.

Elaine Quigley BA Hons., MBIG (Dip) is a leading graphologist, psychologist and past chairman of the British Institute of Graphologists. (She now edits the Insitute's journal). Elaine offers advice for staff selection, counselling, lecturing, exhibition presentations, public speaking, and for TV, radio and newspaper articles. Elaine's background in dealing with individual clients and national companies has given her the flexibility and experience to provide valuable support in decision-making and interpersonal perception.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

VIDEO Automatic Brain: The Magic Of The Unconscious

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Can Men And Women Be 'Just Friends'?

I have previously published two articles on the "friend zone" - the area of mismatched romantic or sexual expectations between friends. In the first article, I shared some possible techniques to escape the friend zone and potentially turn from friend to boyfriend or girlfriend (see here). In the second article, I discussed this problem a bit more, sharing tips on how to avoid the friend zone in the first place (see here).

Both of those articles received a good deal of commentary and stirred debate. Generally, that debate centered on whether men and women, particularly, can be "just friends". Overall, the comments suggested that men and women might have very different goals and motives for "friendship". Each looks at the responsibilities in friendship and love a bit differently. As a result, they tend to co-create this friend zone confusion.

Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued. So, I took a look in the research literature on men and women being friends. Here is what I found...

Research on Inter-Sexual Friendship

Apparently this "just friends" question was pondered by others beginning about a decade ago. Bleske and Buss (2000) surveyed college students regarding the benefits and costs of opposite sex friendships in their lives. In general, many of these benefits and costs were the same for both men and women. For example, both sexes enjoyed opposite-sex friends for dinner companions, conversation partners, self-esteem boosts, information about the opposite sex, social status, respect, and sharing resources. Both sexes also noted some similar costs of opposite-sex friendship, such as jealousy, confusion over the status of the relationship, love not being reciprocated, cruel or mean behaviors, and being less attractive to other potential daters because of the friendship.

Male and female responses did differ on a few key items though. Men were more likely to see sex and romantic potential in an opposite sex friend as a benefit (women primarily saw it as a cost). As a result, men were also more likely than women to say that they had sex with an opposite sex friend (22% vs. 11%). Men were also more likely to report friendship costs of lowered self-worth and giving time to help the friend, while women found their own inability to reciprocate the male's attraction as costly. Therefore, when friendships did not turn sexual or romantic, men were often left feeling rejected and used (i.e. "friend zoned"), while women felt uncomfortable with the unequal attraction. In contrast, when friendships did turn romantic/sexual, some of these men continued to label the women as "just friends" - at about double the rate of women. This leads to the "other" friend zone women more routinely face, the "friends-with-benefits zone", where sex is shared but commitment is not reciprocated.

Women also had their own unique costs and benefits of opposite-sex friendships. They were more likely to experience the benefit of their male friends paying for outings and enjoyed the physical protection of those friends (men saw these as costs of time and money). Women also enjoyed the ability to network through male friends. However, as noted above, women found it costly when those male friends desired sex or romance. They also disliked when their male friends caused difficulty in the women's other dating efforts.

Revisiting the Friend Zone and Friendship Problems

The research above supports the notion that men and women may sometimes have very different goals and desires in opposite-sex friendships. Although both may sometimes be looking for a companion and nothing more, on other occasions, plans may differ. More specifically, men appear to be more likely to look at opposite sex friends as potential sexual and romantic partners. Women, in contrast, tend to prefer non-sexual friendships, which provide protection and resources.

To make matters worse, each sex sees the other's benefit as their own cost. Thus, women tend to find it costly and onerous when male friends desire sex and romance. Men, in contrast, find the time and money demands costly and frustrating, particularly when their romantic desires are not reciprocated. So, due to the mismatched desires, we have the makings of friendship difficulties.

What does this mean for the "friend zone"? As I have said before, the friend zone is essentially an unequal relationship, where the desires of both friends are not equally met. It may exist in a "just friends" context, where resources are being shared (usually gratifying the woman's needs), but sex and romance is not an option (usually frustrating the man). A mismatch can also occur in a "friends-with-benefits" context, where sex is being shared (usually satisfying the man), but resources and protection are not forthcoming (usually frustrating the woman).

Although these patterns are the most common, however, it is important to note that either sex can experience either situation. Some women may desire no-strings-attached sex with a friend. Some men may desire a long-term relationship with a hook-up buddy. The important thing to remember is the MISMATCH in goals. The trade is not equally satisfying for both friends.

Keeping that point in mind leads to the solution...

Tips for Negotiating a Satisfying Opposite-Sex Friendship

The research above (and many people's experience) shows that it may often be hard for men and women to be friends. They often have very different expectations for what that "friendship" will entail. However, there is some common ground. So, with a bit of effort, satisfying friendships can be created (at least in some situations).

1) Understand different friendship needs. It is common for people to think about what they want only. They may even think what they desire is somehow more noble, important, or urgent. That simply is not the case.

When entering into any relationship, even a simple friendship, what others desire may be different. Each person's goals for the friendship may be unique. Some people want companionship, others resources. Some want sex, others commitment. To have a friendship of any kind, it is important to respect those differences. Don't let anyone shame you out of your desires. Don't do it to your "friends" in return either.

2) Communicate your intentions. Frustration and difficulty starts when both individuals are not honest about their goals. For example, a man may claim he desires only companionship, when he really wants a girlfriend. Or, a woman may hook-up, when she really desires to be dined, protected, and dated. Without knowing, their "friends" may not take care of those needs (taking them at their word and deed).

So, if you want something specific out of a friendship, it is important to show it. That may mean a conversation and asking questions. It may also mean acting more like a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" than a simple friend from the start, making sexual or commitment requests early on. For example, some men say that "they don't pay for outings, unless a woman is looking to be their girlfriend". Some women communicate that "they don't sleep with men who are not interested in a longer relationship". Yet others talk about their pre-existing "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", letting others know that "friendship only" is available.

In any case, it is important for both parties to be clear what will and will not be part of the "friendship". It is essential to communicate your desires and listen to those of others.

3) Only stay with fair trades. Sometimes both "friends" are looking to slowly lead to love and commitment. Other times, both are looking for some sexual benefits too. Yet others share only a mutual desire for company, conversation, and mutual support. All of these are good foundations for satisfying (and frustration free) opposite-sex friends. Most often, these will occur when both individuals have the same desires for love and sex with a friend. These balanced and satisfying friendships are also likely to occur in situations where both friends have their own needs for love, sex, resources, and protection met from a separate girlfriend or boyfriend.

With other friendships, desires may not match up so well. In those situations, costs mount, frustrations rise, and hard feelings result. Therefore, it is often best to end those friendships early for all involved. When you find yourself wanting more in a friendship (or hookup) and that desire is not reciprocated, walk away. Similarly, when you don't want more, but your friend does, cut them loose. In either case, failing to act, or convincing others to stay against their needs, will only bring you costs. So, save yourself the frustration of pouring time and money into a lost cause. Or, be sure to let that love-sick friend down quickly, before they ruin your other relationships and make you feel bad.

Nothing you hope to gain from a short-term, unequal friendship will be worth the costs that eventually show up. So, when the exchange is not equal, even if it is initially in your favor, end it. Walk away before the negative consequences add up. Only stay with friends who feel the same.


Can men and women be just friends? In many cases, the answer is no. Sometimes that is good thing, when both people see friendship as a step to mutually-satisfying love, sex, and/or commitment. At other times, men and women cannot be "just" friends because only one friend desires something more. Those mismatched desires between men and women lead to unequal friend zone situations, where one person's needs are completely satisfied at the other's expense. Those unfortunate instances and the frustrations around them are the friendship problems we hear so much about.

Nevertheless, friendship between men and women is not impossible. However, it does require finding someone with friendship goals matching your own. Communicating clearly and leaving when there is not a match is key. Also, if you desire "just friends", then it may be better to pick only friends who are already in other romantic relationships. That way, you can have a satisfying exchange, a good friend, and no frustration.

Friday, 16 August 2013

25 Ways To Make Yourself More Intelligent

Almost everyone would love to take advantage of ways to boost their brain power and become smarter, no matter how smart they already are. Below are 25 scientifically proven ways you can do just this. From surprising activities such as watching TV or riding a motorcycle to brain-healthy nutrition choices, try a few of these ideas and see if you notice any improvement in your intelligence.
What You Can Do
These activities all offer ways to improve your cognitive abilities, so pick up a crossword puzzle, drink some water, and listen to some music to make yourself smarter.
  1. Watch specific types of TV shows. Outlined in the book Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson, TV shows that include certain elements such as many overlapping plot strands, a relatively large number of primary characters, moral ambiguity, and no narrative hand-holding produce benefits for the views that build intelligence. Some examples of these types of shows include E.R., Alias, The West Wing, Six Feet Under, and 24.
  2. Play video games. Not all video games may qualify for this, but researchers showed that 9 and 10 year-olds who played Dr Kawashima’s More Brain Training on the Nintendo DS displayed “dramatic” results when looking at math improvement and classroom behavior. The number challenges, problem-solving, and memory puzzles are likely what makes this game different from some others.
  3. Social networking. According to a study reported in Discover Magazine, social interaction boosts synaptic activity, then sleep helps eliminate any unnecessary synapses, thereby boosting the positive ones. Granted, this study was done on fruit flies, but the idea is that by interacting socially, humans are creating more synapses, therefore increasing brain power.
  4. Ride a motorcycle. The developer of Nintendo’s Brain Training software, Ryuta Kawashima, conducted an experiment on Japanese men in their 40s and 50s who had motorcycle licenses but hadn’t ridden in years. The men were split into two groups–one riding a motorcycle to work every day and one not. The motorcycle riders showed improved cognitive functioning and they also indicated that they made fewer mistakes at work and felt happier.
  5. AgeResearchers have discovered that as the human brain ages, several processes begin to occur to improve the way the brain functions. Older brains have learned more, use more complex modes of processing, and the two hemispheres of these brains begin to work together more efficiently. The result is that when people reach their 40s and well beyond that, their brains are just beginning to work at peak efficiency, resulting in more wisdom and intelligence.
  6. Drink water throughout the day. Just about everyone has heard that drinking water is good for your body, but some researchers say that drinking water throughout the day keeps your body hydrated more effectively, thereby providing more of the benefits of drinking water–including carrying nutrients and oxygen to your brain.
  7. Get enough sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep (generally between 7 to 8 hours a night) allows your brain time to process the day by strengthening memories, and the connection between neurons, resulting in better recall. Find out your optimal amount of sleep, then engage in healthy sleep-promoting behaviors such as getting exercise and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed to help boost your intelligence.
  8. Listen to musicSeveral studies have shown a connection between listening to music can improve memory and boost skills in math and science. Listening to music also works to improve listening skills and focus as well as promotes relaxation.
  9. Practice dual n-back exercises. These exercises were created by psychologist Susanne Jaeggi specifically to improve intelligence and are now available in several games, such as the open source version from Brain Workshop or a paid version for the iPhone called IQ boost.
  10. Learn a foreign language. While most research focuses on teaching languages to young students, learning a new language at any age will provide your brain the opportunity to make new neural connections, which increases intelligence.
  11. Practice Transcendental Meditation. This form of meditation requires practitioners to sit quietly with eyes closed while chanting a mantra. Studies have shown that Transcendental Meditation can improve the performance of high school and post-secondary students.
  12. Stretch your memory. Learn from London taxi drivers, who must memorize all the streets in the city before taking on their job. Researchers have learned that these taxi drivers have a larger than normal hippocampus, suggesting a strong link between using memory and growing intelligence.
  13. Work crossword puzzles. Working crossword puzzles on a regular basis keeps the mind sharp and holds dementia at bay as well. Don’t worry if you think you aren’t good at them, start easy and work your way up to more difficult ones.
  14. Play chess. If you don’t already know how, learn how to play chess to help boost your intelligence. While many studies look at teaching students the game in order to help raise intelligence and problem-solving, it is also an excellent way for adults to do the same.
What You Can Eat
Good nutrition is tied to both a healthy body and a healthy brain, but some aspects of nutrition have been shown to improve intelligence and protect brain function. Find out what you can eat (and drink) to make yourself smarter.
  1. Vitamin B. Vitamin B helps improve memory and mood. Studies have also shown a connection between mental decline in the elderly and a lack of B vitamins in their bodies. Eat plenty of foods high in B vitamins such as bananas, turkey, beans, lentils, and potatoes.
  2. Fish oil. Whether you take high-quality supplements, eat fish such as wild salmon, or both, getting fish oil in your diet is an excellent way to make yourself smarter. Research has shown that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are the best type of oils for the best brain function.
  3. Avoid artificial colors and flavorings. A study of one million students in New York showed that students who ate lunches that did not include artificial flavors, preservatives, and dyes did 14% better on IQ tests than students who ate lunches with these additives. Eating naturally is not only better for your body, but helps raise intelligence, too.
  4. Matcha. This stone-ground, powdered form of green tea is a super-concentrated version of the green tea that comes in tea bags. This form of green tea is an excellent way to increase mental alertness, improve focus, and is incredibly healthy.
  5. Antioxidants. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants can help improve focus, problem-solving, and memory by combating free-radicals in your body. The best sources of antioxidants include blueberries, red kidney beans, cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
  6. Breakfast. It may be known as the most important meal of the day, but it is now considered the best meal for your brain too. Those who eat breakfast each day show improved focus, memory, creativity, and overall performance.
  7. Ginkgo Biloba. This herb has been used since ancient times and increases blood flow to the brain and has been shown to reduce dementia, increase short-term memory, and improve focus.
  8. AvocadoAvocados have monosaturated fat (the good fat), which increases blood flow. Increased blood flow promotes brain health. Avocados also help lower blood pressure, and high blood pressure is associated with reduced cognitive function.
  9. Meat and fish. Eating a diet with lean meat and fish provides creatine for your body, which has shown to boost both memory and intelligence. There have been reports of athletes and students taking high levels of creatine supplements to get more mental and physical benefits from it, but naturally occurring creatine from meats are the best source for your body and brain.
  10. Ginseng. Long used in the east as a mental stimulant that improves memory and brain function, astudy done at Baylor College of Medicine indicates that ginseng actually may protect the brain. In this study, ginseng protected the brains of rats from toxins that replicate the effects of diseases such as Huntington’s and may also hold a clue to treating Parkinson’s.
  11. Vitamin E. Vitamin E is beneficial to brain health as it works as a mild antioxidant. It also has been shown to reduce depression and to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Find vitamin E in nuts, leafy green vegetables, kiwi, and mango.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Psychology of Aggression

You can't have missed the latest Twitter debacle. Some deeply unpleasant individuals got very angry at women pursuing pro-female agendas publicly. People then got very angry at these individuals who were sending threats and at Twitter in general for not doing more to stop it. Some people then got angry at these people in turn about the solutions they wanted. A brief twitter-boycott was then organised by a high profile person who seems to make people angry with her I mean their very existence. People then got very angry about the supposed rationale behind this boycott. People then got very angry with these people who were angry about the boycott. There may have been more but it was getting too complex for me. I'm only a neuroscientist.

Around this time, GQ were receiving an onslaught of rage-fuelled messages from One Direction fans, due to innocuous comments made about Harry Styles, one of the bipedal haircuts in the aforementioned band. Then they announced the new Doctor Who and many got angry about him being another white male. That's a major issue for some; not enough racial/gender diversity in Time Lords. Each to their own.

A lot of anger about lately, is what I'm saying. If it were a liquid we'd be piling sandbags against our doors. But where does it all come from? And why is it so often directed at bizarre targets?

Psychologically, it's a complex subject (as many emotions tend to be). Aggression (in humans) is defined by Anderson and Bushman as "any behaviour directed toward another individual that is carried out with the proximate (immediate) intent to cause harm. In addition, the perpetrator must believe the behaviour will cause harm and that the target is motivated to avoid the behaviour". Someone's doing something you don't like (e.g be a woman who expresses opinions), you do something to them which you know will cause harm (e.g. threaten them with violence and assault), and they'll hopefully respond to prevent you doing that again (e.g. stop voicing opinions).

It's important to differentiate anger and aggression. Anger is the state of emotional and physiological arousal. You can get angry about something but opt to not behave aggressively to someone as a result; this sort of behaviour is regarded as rather mature. Similarly, you can be very aggressive to someone, e.g. by mugging them, without being angry at that person; odds are you know nothing about them apart from the fact that they may have valuables on them. For the record, mugging someone is not regarded as mature.

Hostility is the cognitive component of aggression. It's the stuff you think about that leads to aggressive behaviour, and keeps it happening while you're doing it. Hostile aggression is when you react aggressively and impulsively to perceived threat/insult. Conversely, instrumental aggression is when you use aggression to acquire more long term goals. A co-worker who openly belittles you in front of others is likely using instrumental aggression to obtain promotions at your expense; you subsequently attempting to cave his head in with a stapler while he's in the toilet is hostile aggression.

There are numerous theories behind human aggression. Psychodynamic, evolutionary, ethological, the frustration-aggression hypothesis, cue-arousal, social learning and many more. Perhaps the most comprehensive take is the general aggression model. Neuroscientificallly, aggression is believed to involve the frontal lobes, the amygdala and serotonin, but the overall understanding of it seems limited. This is understandable; to scientifically study anger you'd need people to get angry. However, most psychological experiments on humans require ethical approval, and actively harming/angering people is unlikely to get that. On the Venn-diagram of "people easily angered" and "people who willingly volunteer to let scientists poke and prod them" there's not going to be much overlap, so opportunities for research are limited.

But another interesting question is why people seem so angry about relatively inconsequential things so often these days. One possibility is that it's been hot lately, and people are more aggressive when it's hot. What with climate change, maybe we can expect more of this?

The frustration-aggression hypothesis says we get angry when frustrated; when our desires, goals or expectations are thwarted. There are so many opportunities for this these days, what with capitalism telling us all the things we could/should have (but can't), the media telling us how terrible everything is with the economy/environment/politics/everything else, and the internet ensuring we have a constant stream of potentially frustrating info, it's easy to see how people could live in a perpetual state of simmering anger. However, it's often difficult to do anything about these frustrations, so it's likely to result in displaced aggression. This is where you can't respond to the thing that's frustrating you due to it being unavailable or, more frustratingly, something or someone who has the greater ability to harm you if you react. The arousal of anger doesn't dissipate quickly, so it's often transferred to less deserving but more convenient targets. Your life isn't going as you'd hoped and your situation sucks? It can't be your fault; it's those damn women and feminists, ruining society and screwing you over in the process. But thanks to the internet, you now have ample opportunity to get your "revenge".

That's one thing the internet does do well; it provides ample things for us to get angry about that we've power to change or affect, but it does offer us plenty of avenues to displace and vent our aggression and anger at more minor, less significant targets.

Obviously the truth of the matter is way more complex, taking in societal, evolutionary and psychological factors beyond the scope of a single blog post. And anger and aggression are not all bad. Without anger, serious injustices would go unanswered, we would be less motivated to protect ourselves and our loved ones and may not have survived as a species, and the Daily Mail web traffic would collapse like a rice-paper canoe.

But anger and aggression are all too easy to fall victim to, and often over the most insubstantial of reasons when you think about it, which is rarely of benefit to anyone. After all, it was Sigmund Freud who said "Anger leads to fear, fear leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side".

And if that last line doesn't anger a large number of people, I'll be very surprised.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Feng Shui And How To Make Changes In Your Life

There are times in our life when we need a big change. Maybe we want to leave a long-term relationship, a job we are unhappy with, move to an entirely new area, find a career that makes our heart sing, or have a family.
These big change times can be enormously frustrating. Everything in us feels like we are ready now, but things seem to be moving at a snail’s pace, or we don’t have a clue how to go about making the change happen.
If you are in one of those big change times of your life, Feng Shui presents a proactive way to get things moving – via moving around things in your living space.
Feng Shui teaches that we are energetically connected to everything that surrounds us. Our living space – whether a mansion, house, apartment or room, hugely affects us because of the amount of time we spend there.
Whatever we are surrounded by has a lot of influence over how we feel about our lives, ourselves and our place in the world. In other words, the shape of our outer world reflects the shape of our inner world.
This is why clutter is such a big deal. If we have a lot of  clutter it reflects a place where we have gone unconscious in our lives. The deeper the degree of clutter and chaos in our surroundings, the more deeply we have lost touch with who we truly are and what is really important.
The good news is that just as clutter stops the flow of positive energy, unloading it and moving things around in our home in a conscious way, will get the positive energy flooding into those otherwise occupied areas. New energy comes into our lives as we free up energy in our living space. I have been consulting for over 13 years and have witnessed innumerable huge changes take place in my clients lives simply by clearing the clutter.
Whatever area of your life you would like the big changes to occur, Feng Shui teaches that there is an energetic center of the home that corresponds to it. We can locate this energy center and enhance it with what we call environmental affirmations.
The vehicle for locating these energy centers is called a Bagua Map.
The concept is akin to using your home as a vision board. You identify the area you want to get the energy moving in and enhance it with objects that represent this. The items you use should be personal, no Chinese coins, or dragons or objects from a different culture unless they have personal meaning to you.  Even if you don’t know the specifics of what it is you want, try to get things that represent the qualities you are looking for. If you wish to change the status of a relationship, think about the qualities that are the most important, not the things they have acquired.
For example, let’s say you want to move somewhere but didn’t have a clue where that would be. What you do know is that you want to be somewhere that has lakes and hiking trails. You want the people to have certain qualities that are important to you, such as an interest in ecology and green living. You want a pet-friendly area with open minded people. In that case, find pictures, images, words and objects that represent these qualities and put them up in the Health and Family area of the home. This area is about where we live and our community as family.
Here are seven things you can do now to encourage a Big Life change.
Step #1 remove the clutter. The bigger you want the change, the bigger the clutter removal should be.
Step #2 Reinvent and rearrange  your living space. This is the time to rearrange your furniture, paint your room or home, do those projects you have been putting off, like putting in a vegetable garden. Move the energy or chi in and around your  home and you will get it moving in your life! See my article on Reinventing your  Living Space for more ideas.
Step #3 Locate the areas of the home that represent the areas you want to get moving and use this part of your home as a vision board representing what it is you want to bring into that part of your life.
Step #4 Make the entrance to your home entrancing. The entrance is considered the mouth of chi where all of our opportunities enter. If you have an entrance you can work with, add colorful planter boxes on either side of the door, refresh your door mat, clear spider webs, oil squeaky doors, replace light bulbs, clear dead plants and anything unpleasant to look at. Clean your front door or give it a new coat of paint or paint it your favorite color.
Step #5 If you are working with career, make sure your office chair is in the empowered position, i.e. so that you can see the door but are not in direct alignment to it. Create a vision board in your home office of your ideal career and put a water feature in that room. Career is connected to water and our life-flow.
Step #6 Change the position of your bed – but make sure you are in the empowered position, not in front of a window or in direct alignment with a door. Changing something as basic as your bed position will shake up the nervous system and get your creative juices going, breaking stuck thought patterns.
Step #7 Write on a piece of paper as much as you know now about the qualities of the big change you want. Write it gratitude and in present-tense, as if it is true now. Put this paper in a special box you like in the area of the home that you are working with and read it often. Feel it, imagine it, from a place of believing this is coming to you.The more you can visualize it as if it is true, the more energy you create in moving it towards you.
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