Positive Psychology for Women

A Special Collection of Blessing for You This Memorial Day Weekend!

Posted on May 28, 2010
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“May you always be pleased with freedom, both inside and outside of yourself! ”

“May storm clouds never make you feel down or sad, but rather only remind you that the sun is just a cloud break away!”

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”

“May you fly as high as the angels and still be as solid as a rock and as wholesome as apple pie.”

“When a sudden memory from you past comes into your head unexpectedly, may it only fill you with delight and the pleasure of remembering what has been good and fruitful in your own life!”

Is a Positive Person Happy all the time?

Posted on April 1, 2010
Filed Under A Positive Therapy | 2 Comments

A positive person is not happy all the time. But a positive person has either innate character traits and/or has learned techniques to help herself restore herself is she falls into some despair or lowered mood state. For example, a “positive” person realizes that things do not always go our way. However, even if she has a perfectly normal reaction of upset if something happens to her that is unsettling, she has ways of getting herself back to an optimistic position in terms of her moods and behaviors. Perhaps she learned this from her early family life and the messages she received. But perhaps she wasn’t so fortunate, and has intentionally practiced ways of cheering herself up, such as positive cognitive thoughts, exercise, proper nutrition, enough sleep, making friends, etc.

I always say it takes work to be happy. However, the reverse is true also. It takes mental and physical work to be miserable also. Just think how heavy you feel when you sag your shoulders. Think how miserable you feel if you stay up all night worrying! So I think being happy is the better alternative for feeling good and a better use of our energies!

THE ENCHANTED SELF, That’s Each of Us!

Posted on March 18, 2010
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In my years as a psychologist, I have come to believe that most people seeking psychotherapy are unhappy. This is not only due to earlier hurts and traumas, as well as present frustrations and problems, but because they cannot access earlier happy moments often enough. The unfortunate result is not being able to experience enough positive states of well-being. It is these unique states of well being that I have come to label THE ENCHANTED SELF.

Many scientists of human behavior recognize that we do not yet, and perhaps never can, fully understand human nature. I have become more and more convinced that we do not. What interests me, is that we do not fully understand some people, who have apparently fortunate lives but experience little joy, while others, apparently less fortunate, experience great joy. Perhaps we have tried too hard to understand pathology in our science of psychology, and have not tried hard enough to recognize and understand what I call ego-states, or happiness.

When I first began to analyze the data from the women I interviewed, I kept trying to understand how their enchanted adult lives evolved from the childhoods they talked about. I found that although there seemed to be some clear connections, many others were not clear at all.

The capacities of these women to reclaim positive aspects of their childhood, while discarding the dysfunction that was often also present, was astounding to me. It seemed as if a magic wand had been tapped on the women’s heads in their adult lives.

For example, when Edith talked about her childhood, she at first remembered only its dysfunctional aspects: the fighting between her parents and their constant criticality. I suggested that we go back and look again at her childhood to identify times when, in spite of the pain of family life, she felt excited about her own life and about herself. With this encouragement, she could separate out positive memories of herself from dysfunctional family experiences. She started remembering some wonderful times: delightful family picnics, fishing with her grandfather, and more.

An activity you can do to start on the positive road of Enchantment:

What are some golden moments in your childhood when you felt particularly happy? These moments can be from any age, from your earliest memories through early adulthood. When you find a golden memory, enjoy it. See yourself at that age and experiment with letting different senses reconnect to that happy time. Can you remember the way your body felt? Can you remember what activity you were engaged in? Were there any aromas? What was the weather like? How did things look around you? What did your mood feel like? Take time to really enjoy this happy memory of yourself.

I wish you a joyful journey. I hope that your life feels whole and that you find your past, whether beautiful or painful, a repertoire of talents and capabilities is that are uniquely yours. I hope that your talents, capacities and potential will give you a sense of well being as they thrust you into the world in meaningful ways.

Barbara Becker Holstein in “Four Gateways to Happiness” from Women’s Paths to Happiness

Posted on January 28, 2010
Filed Under Happiness, Positive psychology for women | 1 Comment

“When you fall in love with yourself, you begin to feel the positive
self-esteem that comes when we don’t deflate ourselves.

“You’re ready to take yourself out for tea or to that wonderful spa for a day, or to go back and play the piano, which you always wanted to do.

You’re ready to recognize all the tools of wisdom that you have to offer.

You’re ready to recognize that you have an Enchanted Self that
deserves to be part of your every day.”/

~ Barbara Becker Holstein in
“Four Gateways to Happiness” from Women’s Paths to Happiness

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, discusses her positive psychology approach, THE ENCHANTED SELF and a great new book in positive psychology, WOMEN’S PATHS TO HAPPINESS, in which she is one of the authors.

Posted on January 21, 2010
Filed Under A Positive Therapy, Happiness | 1 Comment

As the years have passed and I have become increasingly convinced that happiness is not an option. When you take away joy we immediately find ourselves in circumstances that seem to drain tire and weaken us. I developed The Enchanted Self as a positive psychology approach to work in the treatment room and outside of it. It is a means of self-renewal and self-regeneration that can be used again and again. Some of the techniques I teach involve an attitudinal shift. For example, I show people how to recognize what is right about themselves, rather than what is wrong. Other strategies involve helping us see the power in the stories and purposes of our individual lives. I also show people how to get to where they need to go, whether that means an attitudinal shift, further education or even learning how to rest and replenish. I believe and teach that each of us knows when we are on track, and we know where we are living a healthy lifestyle that fits with the integrity of our spirit.

I have been blessed to be able to join up with a group of women of similar intent. Like-minded and yet each so different, we have banded together to jointly write a great new book, Women’s Paths to Happiness. In this book each of us 12 women has been able to share the path that she inspires other women to walk along. I discuss The Enchanted Self’s Four Gateways to Happiness. I hope you will read our book. You can find it here.

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein quoted in the WSJ ON STYLE January 14, 2010

Posted on January 20, 2010
Filed Under Published Articles | 1 Comment

A New Look for a New Life, by Christina Binkley
Bye-Bye, Bottega: A Former Executive Purges Her Closet in Search of Deeper

“People often feel the need to reinvent themselves when they reach midlife or the years before retirement, says Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, a psychologist in West Allenhurst, N.J. It’s common for people like Ms. Kan to feel that they’ve compromised too much of themselves for their job or their marriage, and to want to rectify that by starting afresh….”

Please read the full article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704586504574654971072980350.html

Managed Care: Path to Professional Disillusionment Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Posted on January 12, 2010
Filed Under The Enchanted Self | 1 Comment

Those of us who became clinicians 15, 20, 25 and 30 years ago did so because we had a mission. Each in his or her own fashion had a reason for becoming a clinician that tapped into a need to be of service to humanity, dedicated to utilizing skills that stressed talking and listening as an art/science. We served internships, wrote dissertations and gladly entered what we saw as a “healing” profession. In fact, we achieved what I refer to as The Enchanted Self (i.e. achieving positive states of being that are a reflection of each person’s uniqueness).

Each was able to utilize the uniqueness of one’s personal history, and talents, serving the public in a meaningful and skilled manner. As private as the treatment room had been, most can look back on those early years as years of collegial support and understanding. Whether one became an ego-psychologist, a behaviorist, or a family therapist, etc., each of us knew the mentoring, and the success that went with each discipline. We were able to achieve some form of enchantment within the treatment room, offering our clients the best of ourselves, psychologically supported by our colleagues and society at large. We were confident to encourage our clients to stay for the appropriate length of treatment, comfortable making clinical judgments, and enthused about learning new techniques and clinical skills. We offset our sleepless nights, our anxieties around difficult clients, with elation and moments of pure joy, as we saw clients grow and heal.

Those days seem long gone. Now we are in an era of disenchantment. By that I mean, we suffer the emotional and financial devastation of Managed Care. Whether a clinician chooses to practice within Managed Care or not, he or she is not protected from disenchantment. Disenchantment is all around. The public does not respect or understand the art/science of psychotherapy as they used to. Nor are the younger clinicians trained and mentored professionally to the standards that we took for granted. Clients come into psychotherapy, often with lowered expectations as to what therapy is, motivated primarily by their pocketbook or their Managed Care’s pocketbook. They expect cures within 4, 6 or 8 sessions. After all, that is what their plan offers. They are led to believe that a few sessions are an adequate number of contact hours with a therapist. They expect miracles while no longer having a cursory understanding of what talking therapy is all about. They, like most of America, want a quick fix, and they want it now!

As we find ourselves as “mental health providers” in a state of disenchantment, how can we utilize what we know about human potential to offset our own emotional and spiritual malaise? We know from the study of human potential that optimism and hope are extremely important factors in staying well both physically and emotionally.

How can we hold on to these capacities within ourselves? How can we at the same time fight Managed Care? In my book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, I discuss how important our own histories are. Each of us has accumulated many memories. Our memory banks are unique to ourselves and hold within them, the potential for hope and optimism. Let me explain.

Only you can review your life’s history. Rather than looking for dysfunctional aspects of your past, search out and discover moments when you displayed talents, strengths and/or wonderful coping skills. Only you can review your life, discovering and recognizing the moments when you were filled with the potential for growth and success even if you were stymied. Now is a golden opportunity to look through your past and recognize these wondrous moments. Perhaps as a child you excelled at chess or playing tennis. Perhaps you were the child that brought home and nurtured abandoned birds and animals. Perhaps you longed to study the piano but there was no money and you could not take lessons. Yet even now you may remember the longing you had to play, or, perhaps to fend off feelings of anxiety in a quarreling family, you developed marvelous organizational skills. Were you the adolescent that displayed leadership skills, becoming president of the junior high school student council? Or were you the child that loved to dance or write poetry or just sit and daydream? You, who have guided so many others in finding their paths, can take the time to review your own history to find what is most positive about yourself.

Once you have begun to review and itemize your talents, strengths, coping skills, and potential, you are well on your way to bringing enchantment back into your life. Even during these dark days of Managed Care you can utilize your own enchantment in several fashions. You may discover in reviewing your past that you have much more potential to help in the fight for Managed Care then you thought was possible. Directing yourself to be a clearer and stronger warrior in the battle will in and of itself decrease anxiety and lessen the likelihood of depression. We all know that from what we advise our clients.

If a review of your past makes clear that you are not cleared to be a warrior in this battle, you can still access long forgotten talents and pleasures which can make your life more fulfilling. Perhaps it is time to take up tennis again. After all, you may have a few more open hours. Perhaps it is time to join a writer’s group or offer volunteer services on the local first aid squad. Perhaps it is time to finally make those plans for a walking or biking tour next summer and use extra hours to strengthen those old leg muscles. In reviewing your talents you may discover new avenues to provide mental health services to your local community.

Remember, whatever way you go you will find yourself most successful if you are utilizing your own specific talents, and coping skills. You will soon find that you are able to expand your horizons and have a more positive sense of yourself. You will be back on the road to enchantment.

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein and Martha Trowbridge discuss young women’s development on archived radio show Happiness for Women Only.

Posted on November 10, 2009
Filed Under Happiness | 2 Comments

Here is an excerpt about young women from the June 15th, 2007 broadcast:

Barbara: I find that women between 20 and 35 do have a kind of wonderment that they finally made it to be a grown up. And yet, at the same time, they’re often struggling with left over self-esteem wounds, sometimes from boyfriends that went wrong, sometimes from overly harsh or critical parents, sometimes from not doing well in their education process. So, oftentimes, young women come to me with a great deal of injury around feeling good about themselves.

Another thing that women between 20 and 35 struggle with is how to be successful, both emotionally and financially. Emotionally, there’s that constant tug between the young woman’s needs for her own identity, her own sense of pleasure, her own interests, and yet she’s still, at the same time, being pulled toward other people’s needs, often because she wants to be. She wants a boyfriend and/or a husband or a partner, she wants babies, she wants pets, she wants to live on her own rather than at home. So there’s so many struggles going on.

And yet, at the same time, often, where is the real young woman? Where is she in all of this? If one marries, there is suddenly the pull between her husband’s needs and her own. And sometimes there isn’t enough wisdom and maturity to buffer his needs and her.

I do find, particularly, and I don’t know if you’ve seen this at all, Martha, in the literature or dealing with more abused women, that the first year of marriage can be very disorienting to a woman’s psyche. And she can particularly sort of lose her sense of being grounded as to who she is. And then it usually just starts to come back, and that passes.

Martha: Well, Barbara, actually, the first year can be a honeymoon. It can be, in some ways, blinding to the reality of the situation you find yourself in. And perhaps in later years, the issues, the faults, the deficits and so on become more obvious. So I think it depends on the relationship.

I agree with you, though, wholeheartedly, it’s so different to be a married woman versus a woman who has never been married. Your whole identity really does get called into question. It gets put under a lamp in the sense of there is a person with whom you’re sharing time and space in a very intimate way. So it can be threatening. It can be a very threatening time for a woman who does not have a secure sense of self.

Barbara: ….Let me just remind you, even though we are emphasizing some of the issues that real women face between 20 and 35, we are not trying to skew the picture that there are millions and millions of women around the world just feeling miserable between 20 and 35.

It also can be a very glorious time, with built in happiness. For example, for many, many women, having a child, or even more than one, is close to bliss. Not only what certain women get from the pregnancy and the childbirth, or even the exciting process of adoption, but the actual development, raising of a child can be extremely connective and uplifting for many, many women.

Martha: And the excitement of those years, once you’re 20, 22. You often have opportunities to travel, to travel on your own versus going as somebody’s daughter. You have opportunities to do things you hadn’t done in the past, to perhaps get your own apartment or house. And it’s a very exciting time as well. There’s lots of hope, generally, and anticipation and you just find yourself doing so many things, as you were saying earlier, as a real woman, as an adult woman, that it can be a really fantastically splendid time of life.

Barbara: Yes. And another thing is that for many, many women, probably most women that are in good health, between 20 and 35, there’s a sense of personal wonderment about your body and your ease of movement and just even your own sexual feelings that maybe secretly as a teenager you were uncomfortable with, now you are much more comfortable with everything about your body.

And there is that energy for going and doing and even, I remember myself, when I was about 24, I remember walking down the street and just feeling so light and airy and, you know, it was so easy to walk and there were some men, and they whistled….

Welcome Changes Radio host Velma Gallant interviews exciting and dynamic guests such as New York Times best selling author, Neale Donald Walsch, Mike Dooley from “The Secret”, and Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Posted on October 27, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Being a radio guest of Velma Gallant, the Queen of Joy, was a true treat. She is a marvelous radio host, who knows how to elicit from her guest so much information. I felt like my expertise as a positive psychologist and as an educator was just pouring out of me as we chatted about my book,girl, The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything). It was a wonderful experience for me. I got to cover so many issues, including parenting, growing up and facing the storm of adolescence, the concept of resiliency and lots more. I even got to talk about about my first book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy. I’m excited that you can listen to the podcast of our show together.

Radio Show Link

Enjoy!

REMEMBERING OUR FUN MEMORIES FROM CHILDHOOD

Posted on September 3, 2009
Filed Under Happiness | 1 Comment

Katherine’s Memory – Playing Elevator in the Closet

Katherine remarked: “My sister and I had so much fun when we were children. The two of us would play, “Elevator” for hours. It was a simple game that went this way: one of us would pretend to be the elevator operator. She would open the closet door and say going up or going down. Then the other one would walk into the closet. The door would be closed behind her. She would huddle on the floor in total darkness. A moment would pass and then she would respond to the voice outside saying, “This floor, coats, dresses, or Second floor, furniture, and cosmetics.” Then out she would leap, laughing hysterically. This sequence would be repeated again and again. We were not at all frightened by the darkness, feeling totally at home in our homemade elevator.”

What a lovely memory Katherine had, so full of heartwarming components. Katherine was able to bring back images of herself and her sister playing with enthusiasm, keeping busy laughing uproariously, and feeling safe.

Do you have a delightful, delicious memory also?  I bet you do.  Find it.  Enjoy it again.  And make sure you share it!

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