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Saturday, November 10, 2012

What is the Mirror Telling You?


     Today I must have felt a bit nostalgic for the days of my childhood because out of nowhere, I began to sing Diana Ross song “Mirror,Mirror”.  I used to love watching Diana Ross as she let her hair flow singing, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, I thought you said you had the answers to it all, You never told me I was gonna take a fall, Mirror, Mirror, Mirror on the wall.”  Of course at the time of the release of this song, I was too young to understand the meaning behind the lyrics. In my young mind, I thought Diana Ross was the black Snow White and the song was the theme song to the new movie. Did I mention that “The Wiz” was my all time favorite movie.  I digress, please allow for me to continue.
    So, this morning I am singing the song and I decide to look for the video so I can remember the rest of the lyrics. I wanted to understand the true meaning behind the song. If I can get on my behavioral scientist soapbox for a moment, let me just remind everyone of how our childhood memories can often be distorted. We encode information through our knowledge and understanding of an experience. Our perceptions of words or events can be distorted as we attempt to recall memories through the lens of our youthful mind. Memory distortion and false memories is a hot topic in the legal and behavioral science arena. I am describing a very mild variation of the issue however it is very relevant.  My attempt to sing the song was inhibited by my limited callback and understanding of the lyrics. I was 5 or 6 years old when I first heard this song and the only reason I recalled the song at all was because the repetition of the chorus was ingrained in my brain and I related the chorus to the evil stepmother and her mirror in the story of Snow White. 
          Well, I found the song on Youtube along with the lyrics and it was disappointing to find that it was not a theme song to Disney’s black version to Snow White.  (Side Bar…I copyright the idea of a black Snow White movie using Diana Ross’s song…now back to our discussion) The lyrics express the disillusionment one feels by the fairy tale story of love.  This brings about an important discussion about relationships because many of us have read the fairy tales of how a princess finds her prince and they live happily ever after during our childhood. We subscribed to this story often imagining ourselves as that princess who will eventually find our prince living the picture perfect life with no more problems to overcome or evil witches to combat. Diana Ross is echoing our emotions and accusations of how we were lied to as we follow the prescribed way of living that is supposed to bring about the happiness that we desire.   She is calling out that “Mirror” who was feeding her lies for so long that before she knew it, she physically grew older while her young heart yearned for the love that she was promised. 
Diana Ross in "Lady Sings the Blues"

          I know that I am opening a can of worms by bringing about this discussion but it is necessary because many men and women subscribe to a certain ideology about relationships that is causing internal and external conflict.  We need to go on a journey of self-discovery that helps us to change our distorted way of thinking about who we are as individuals and our roles in relationships. I had to learn that I am not Diana Ross (I am having a hard time with that reality…. I am still holding on to my Diana Ross wig…again…I digress). I had to learn that Diana Ross is a creation of Motown and even she had to go on her own journey of self-discovery. We have to stop viewing ourselves through rose colored lens, learn about our personality characteristics and how our behavior impacts our lives and our relationships. When there is conflict in relationships, those who are involved must remember that both parties participate in the success or failure of the relationship. We should not allow ourselves to have distorted or false memories about our relationships that will cause us more harm in relationships.  Conflict resolution can come about when there is an open discussion about each person’s philosophy on relationships and behavioral tendencies.  The basic foundation of success in any relationship is built upon mutual understanding, acceptance, and respect for those involved. A successful relationship never comes about through accusations and further discussion of past transgressions.
     I can go on and on about the "Mirror" and how can be representative of how we reflect our ideologies in relationships and become upset when those within the relationship do not cosign on our way of thinking.  I can say that Diana is not upset with the "Mirror", she is actually expressing anger at herself for continuing with an unsuccessful way of thinking and she finally came to the realization of the error of her ways. I can say many things about the attempt to blame others (in this case inanimate objects) for our downfalls. The most important thing that must be done when one looks into the mirror and sees their reflection is to reach a level of self-awareness and self-acceptance.  Through self-awareness and self-acceptance, the reflection will reveal the truth about oneself and their relationships. 

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Friday, November 9, 2012

You Can't FORGET Your PAST, You Have to CONQUER IT!

This message that was posted on Facebook provides some insight that needs further attention because there are individuals who are suffering from pain that is experienced from their past.  Many individuals believe they have healed from those past hurts however the moment that they are put in a situation that is reminiscent to the offense, they re-experience all of those emotions from that past issue. The reason that this occurs is because they attempted to forget their past, they never forgave the other individual, and they never forgave themselves.  These individuals attempted to let go of those hurts and never overcame the very thing that caused them to feel a loss of power in the situation. The result is that the situation overpowered them causing them to be "stuck" and unable to progress in that area of their life.

Everyone contains a different blend of personality characteristics that dictates how they will initially approach a problem in their lives.  There are those individuals with a "D", or "Dominant" personality who will take the direct approach in handling situations in their lives.  The "I", or "Inspirational" individual will look at the brighter side of the situation and use it as a learning tool to move forward.  The "S", or "Steady" personality type will attempt to avoid dealing with the problem in hopes that it will resolve itself.  The "C" personality who is generally the Conscientious type will analyze the situation in an attempt to bring resolution to the problem. The common ground of each personality type is that there is an acknowledgement that a problem exists however the approach to the problem is different.  

This can be an issue to those who are in a relationship with someone who is unwilling to acknowledge past hurts or transgressions.  They may be the "D", "I", or "C" personality type who dealt with the issue within themselves and moved on. They can be the "S" personality who just does not like dealing with conflict or experiencing any type of emotion that will cause them discomfort.  These individuals who approach problems in this way must remember that they are not in a relationship with themselves; they need to care about the emotional needs of the other individual as well.  This means that if one person has a problem, the other one does as well.  This is applicable to every type of relationship whether it is a couple, family, work, or friendship.  

In many cases, the person who is attempting to have an individual acknowledge past hurts or transgressions is experiencing problems moving forward from what happened that caused them pain.  They are essentially "stuck" and cannot move forward within the relationship.  They are looking for assistance because they believe that the other individual has what it takes to help them to grow from the experience.  It is as if the relationship is a flowering plant that was once  flourishing however a weed developed that is wrapping itself around the plant and hindering its' growth.  If that weed is ignored, it will continue to grow and the plant will remain stagnant.  The same will occur if individuals chooses to ignore the root problems that is causing pain and mistrust within a relationship.  The relationship will remain stagnant, failing to grow and deteriorating under the weight of problems that developed during the course of time that the issue was not resolved.  

There are many sayings that people use to advise others of how they should deal with past transgressions that caused a great deal of pain.  They may say things like, "You have to forgive and forget" or "Stop living in the past".  The thing is, you can't forget your past, you have to conquer it.  Those who choose to ignore problems in life will find that they will have to deal with those issues subconsciously when they do not address it on a conscious level.  They experience various symptoms such as depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, and a host of other medical and mental health issues that stem from unresolved issues. The way to conquer an issue is to deal with it directly with the other individual or within oneself. 

There are methods used by mental health professionals to help individuals to overcome issues when they are unable to address them with the offending party.  These methods often allow for the person to verbally express their emotions in an environment that is conducive to the healing process. Therapeutic interventions such as Person-Centered Therapy or Solution-Focused Therapy allow for the client to express their emotions in ways that they believe will help them to deal with their issues.  This is accomplished with an empathetic therapist who allows for the individual to express themselves without the fear of being condemned for their feelings about an issue.  These approaches are welcomed by many individuals however these methods should be implemented by the individuals who are in the lives of these individuals. 

Those who are in a relationship should provide a safe-haven for each other to share their problems and concerns. There should be open communication between empathetic listeners who establish among themselves that they will not condemn the other for expressing their feelings.  Those within the relationship should have mutual respect for one another and they should established ground rules that protect each person within the relationship from experiencing further emotional pain. Everyone has the ability to conquer their past and resolve the conflict that has taken root. Through guidance, those individuals who find it difficult to establish communication within a relationship or understand certain behavior types can learn how to overcome relationship pitfalls.  

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Stigma of Behavioral Health in the Military Community

     After attending a focus group  with spouses of military soldiers who recently returned from deployment, I began to think about our discussion of the stigma of behavioral health and other possible avenues for treatment that will help this population. This informative session gave our group the opportunity to share our experiences and provide insight to the consultants who were interested in how to best communicate the availability of behavioral health resources in the military community. This is a hot topic that can be discussed for a long length of time however I will touch on just a few things that I thought were important to share.
      One of the many things that were discussed during this session was the need to overcome the stigma that is associated with receiving treatment from a mental health professional.  Soldiers are called to be warriors who bandage their wounds and continue to do what is needed to accomplish the mission. There are those throughout the ranks of the military who view the need to seek assistance from behavioral health as a sign of weakness. The number of individuals who are in command who feel this way may be few however the negativity emanated from them has a long reach. There are those in command who are not supportive of soldiers who desire to seek help. They look at these soldiers as unable to handle the pressure and often question their ability to perform their job.  There are many soldiers who will not seek help because of the stigma and the fear that they will be among those who will be kicked out of the army during the downsize of military personnel. 
      There are efforts by many high ranking members of the military community who diligently work  towards removing the stigma of receiving treatment from behavioral health. Many of them are being transparent by sharing the issues they are facing as a result of recent deployments. They share their experiences and how they are overcoming them.  This approach is helping to remove the stigma by demonstrating to lower enlisted members of the military community that what is experienced during deployments can have detrimental effects that requires assistance from a behavioral health professional.  
     The increased awareness of post-deployment mental health issues faced by military personnel and their families has also backfired in some cases as many members of this community became desensitized by these campaigns.  Many of the campaigns designed to direct the members of the military community to these professionals focuses on all of the negative issues that can have an impact on the lives of the military family.  This can cause many individuals to become desensitized as there is an acknowledgment that those issues exist and that there are resources are available however there is no motivating call to action that creates a desire for positive change. There is a general acceptance of the cause and consequences of these issues and what is being called "the new normal".  The military environment contains action-oriented individuals who do not desire to spend a lot of time discussing the problem. They are solution-oriented individuals who want to work on solving the problem and moving on with their lives.  
     With this thought in mind, many members of the mental health community are focusing their efforts to becoming consultants or life coaches. The consultant/coach gains insight into the personal or professional needs of the client in order to help them to move forward in executing a plan of action that will change their lives and their circumstances.  They help their clients to understand their strengths and build upon those strengths to accomplish their personal or professional goals.  These individuals do not perform therapeutic interventions to treat a pathological behavior nor do they diagnose or prescribe psychopharmacological products to their clients because it is outside of their realm of practice. They will refer the individual who is in need of treatment for a particular condition to a mental health professional.  There are those individuals who respond better to this approach because they do not have a mental health professional who will diagnose them and provide treatment according to their weakness.  They are working with professionals who desire to seek out their strengths and capitalize on those strengths in an effort to overcome their weakness.
      The option of obtaining a life coach/consultant may be a possible solution in removing the stigma of seeking assistance in behavioral health. The methodology and approach of these professionals may be more conducive to motivating change in the lives of military personnel and their families.  A plan of action can be determined that these individuals will be motivated to take in accomplishing the mission of enhancing their strengths and overcoming their personal weakness. Those high ranking members of the military community who view soldiers who visit behavioral health as being weak may be supportive of their soldiers visiting a "coach" or "consultant" who will help them to get to the next level in their personal or professional lives.  
      Although seeking the assistance from a life coach/consultant may remove the stigma associated with visiting behavioral health,  these professionals do not take the place of mental health professionals who are trained to provide therapeutic assistance to those who are experiencing serious issues relative to depression, suicidal thoughts, and abusive tendencies.  Individuals who are experiencing problematic behaviors that is proving to be a problem in their personal and professional lives should seek assistance from behavioral health.  They can do this in conjunction with working with a life coach/consultant who will work with them in their personal and professional development if it does not hinder the progress of their treatment.  The ultimate goal is to provide the military family with access to professionals who will treat the behavioral issues while empowering them to be their personal and professional best.  This should be our focus because it will ultimately change the stigma of behavioral health in the military community.

To find out more information about mental health research or consultation, please visit

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Academic Research Solutions : What's New at Academic Research Solutions

Academic Research Solutions : What's New at Academic Research Solutions: NEWS: New services and the A.R.S. Report Academic Research Solutions now provides DISC human behavior consultation services for ...

What's New at Academic Research Solutions

NEWS: New services and the A.R.S. Report

Academic Research Solutions now provides DISC human behavior consultation services for individuals and organizations.  The DISC Assessment provides a personality profile that provides insight into internal and external motivations.  It allows for individuals to learn more about themselves and others. Further information about this service and more can be found on the ARS-MHRCS website.

Another new resource tool is the A.R.S. Report, a monthly newsletter from Academic Research Solutions that provides readers with information on personal and professional development.  Check out the November issue of the A.R.S. Report.

Check it out today!