Rindie Eagle, MA, LPCC
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
From around the web

The beginning of February signals that Valentines Day is near.  For those in loving, intimate relationships who put a lot of meaning into this holiday, they may be all atwitter about how they will spend time with a partner or how expressions of love will be symbolized in gifts or other loving acts.  For people who are single, there might be a weight associated with the impending day of hearts and flowers, as they imagine what “others” are doing.  And let’s not forget about those who couldn’t care less about this “fabricated” holiday and are actually a bit annoyed by the materialism and expectations around all of it.
Wherever you fit on the continuum above, let’s toss it all aside for a minute to consider a fresh paradigm.
Self-love. 
No, not the narcissistic kind but a state of appreciation of yourself, who you are, your strengths and what you bring to the table for friends, family and intimate connections.  Those who have a strong sense of who they are and are clear on their value, tend to radiate this outward.
When you practice loving yourself it is beneficial in that you are better able to:

Be mindful.  This helps with clarity around what you really

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

With Valentines Day approaching, many couples are considering ways to demonstrate their love and affection for each other.  What meaning do you attach to Valentines Day?  What are your expectations?  For me, it’s more about thought and meaning than expensive gifts.  However, the reality is some people truly feel loved by expressions of material love; gifts!  And that’s ok for them, we all have our “thing.”
For those for whom finances are tight, there are many simple and sweet ways you can show your partner you care about them without breaking your piggy bank.  Valentines Day is also an opportunity to get creative.
Here are 8 simple ways to make your partner feel cared for on Valentines Day:

Prepare a stay-at-home picnic surprise complete with blanket on the floor.  Leave a trail of candy hearts leading your honey to the spot.
Buy a package of kid Valentines, like the ones you probably passed out in 1st grade and leave them in secret places to be discovered throughout the day.
Write a love letter to your sweetie – by hand.  This will demonstrate extra effort make and care for them.  Put it in an envelope and stuff it with chocolate hearts in red foil.
Send your mate a loving text at work telling

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Linda Graham, MFT and author of Bouncing Back:  Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being, looks at how “unlovability” is wired into the brain and the experience of rejection gets encoded in neural cells around the heart.  She offers ways to feel lovable again, as we all should.
When we’re not caught in the suffering of feeling unlovable, it’s fascinating to learn just how those afflictive pockets of inadequacy, unworthiness, failure, shame, get so deeply embedded in our neural circuitry in the first place. In these uncertain times, when we’re especially vulnerable to the fear and self-doubt and second guessing creeping in, it is skillful means to learn how to re-program our body-brain’s conditioning and generate new neural circuits that support our feeling lovable, loved and loving.
Here’s a simple exercise to evoke the sense of contraction we often experience at a cellular level when we experience an unexpected hurt, rejection, or disconnect. I learned this one from Stuart Eisdendrath, M.D. and Ronna Kabatznick, PhD, at a daylong on Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. They use this exercise in their MBCT groups at UCSF.

Allow yourself to sit quietly for a moment, eyes gently closed. When

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Amy Eden offers a deeply personal look at how abandonment in childhood later played out in her relationships.  But she learns to deconstruct her “urge to flee” and stay present instead.

First you’re abandoned, then you live with an urge to flee.
I have spent my entire life anxiously ready for things to fall apart.  My shoulders are never completely without tension, same for my eyes in their sockets.  There’s always the potential for a need to leave. I have spent my entire life ready to bail out, to get out, to save myself. To run. I’m sitting in the back of the restaurant facing the door and patrons, ready, at all times, for The End.
I should have sought work in a hospital emergency room as something.
I have ended many relationships in an angry flourish that lived up to that anxious anticipation, heaping a longtime on-and-off again boyfriend’s belongings outside my locked apartment door in NYC, walking out of a bar mid-conversation on a man with whom I lived and not returning home that night in Cambridge, or by lashing out in writing, with agony and bile, to end things in San Francisco…in a satisfying manner that justified the hell I’d supposedly

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

This is incredibly relevant to people all over the world who are losing themselves to their smartphones.  Classified as an addiction by many, it’s impacting relationships and likely changing brains of our young generations.  This is New York Times author, Kevin Noose’s journey to try to free himself.
My name is Kevin, and I have a phone problem.
And if you’re anything like me — and the statistics suggest you probably are, at least where smartphones are concerned — you have one, too.
I don’t love referring to what we have as an “addiction.” That seems too sterile and clinical to describe what’s happening to our brains in the smartphone era. Unlike alcohol or opioids, phones aren’t an addictive substance so much as a species-level environmental shock. We might someday evolve the correct biological hardware to live in harmony with portable supercomputers that satisfy our every need and connect us to infinite amounts of stimulation. But for most of us, it hasn’t happened yet.
I’ve been a heavy phone user for my entire adult life. But sometime last year, I crossed the invisible line into problem territory. My symptoms were all the typical ones: I found myself incapable of reading books, watching full-length movies

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Fear can be the ultimate ruler of your life, if allowed.  It can whisper in your ear that you’re not good enough, you’re a fraud, you won’t be able to do it, you’ll be made fun of, you’ll be rejected and abandoned or that bad things will happen to you.
Fear leads to avoidance which leads to pulling away from life.  It can also impact the way you see yourself, your self esteem and confidence.  It can also prevent you from breaking free of anxiety, depression, and so many other psychological issues.
It’s helpful to know that your nervous system is designed to maintain a certain degree of vigilance— in fact, we’re wired to remember things that go wrong, and fixate on where there might be trouble.  Scientists refer to that as evolution’s negativity bias: We are Velcro for difficult experiences but Teflon for pleasant ones.
If you live with a sense of danger “around the corner” you react by mentally and sometimes even behaviorally going into one of three modes: fight, flight, or freeze.  So with fear, if you regularly feel like a victim, if you close down and withdraw, or instead if you become angry and judgmental, your reaction becomes part of

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

I have been in a relationship for almost 8 months. The relationship has been good when we’re together but he has always had trust issues with me whenever I’m seeing my friends or if I’m going out. Somehow I’ve just sort of accepted it and I’ve lost a lot of friends. When we were out together the other night we got into an argument and he was very drunk. I said something to a friend of mine, a guy. My boyfriend then took a hard grip around my arm and started questioning me about this guy. I said he was a friends but he didn’t believe me. He then put his arms around me as if he was going to hug me, but instead he squeezed really hard and it hurt. I got really scared and started crying and screamed at him to let me go.
After about 10 minutes some girl whom I don’t know stepped in and pulled me away from him. He felt really bad about it when we spoke the day after and I accepted his apology. However later that day we were fooling around when he all of a sudden raised his voice. I felt really

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

I had enough recently. So I stopped. In hindsight I didn’t realize that pause was coming but had a vague awareness of overwhelm creeping up on me, a barely audible whisper telling me I was trying to do too much again, an invitation to give myself a break and regroup.

In the past when I took on too much, I ignored my intuition and plowed ahead with an unconscious belief that I “should” do more as my identity was firmly wrapped around this notion. Does that sound familiar? Do you believe you ARE what you DO? This is very common with perfectionistic and driven types where either emotional validation was limited and/or achievement highly rewarded in their family of origin.

This recent time when I had enough, it was different because I had already learned one of the most life changing lessons there are:

“I am a human being, not a human doing.”

Alas, being a “human being” does not exclude me from the need to earn a living to help support my family. I’m a practicing psychotherapist working with individuals and couples in Marin County, CA. Additionally I am a writer on topics related to emotional and relationship health, the founder of this

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

We’ve all heard of FOMO.  “The fear of missing out,” the anxiety that an exciting event may be happening that you’re not a part of.
This initially was a term assigned to teens, often exacerbated by social media.  Then FOMO crept into the culture a bit more insidiously, especially for those with an underlying vulnerability to feeling excluded and alone.  The hyper-social extrovert who is recharged by people, activities and events can get sucked into the hole too.  I suppose for a few of these folks, it might ultimately be fairly harmless.
The question is ultimately whether the “fear” leads to compulsive behavior and unpleasant hangover emotions.  At its worst and left unchecked, FOMO can lead to depression, bitterness and dents to the sense of self.  Someone with pervasive FOMO might often spontaneously “quit” social media in an effort to manage their uncomfortable feelings around the perception of being left out.
In walks JOMO, “the joy of missing out,” the antidote and positive reframe of its predecessor.
JOMO essentially means you’re good with where you’re at.  You’re able to let go of the “shoulds” and not panic about whether there is a better choice to be made.  It asks us to practice saying No

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Linda Graham, MFT and author of Resilience and Bouncing Back, looks at the power of response flexibility, an important aspect of resilience.  It’s the ability we all have to shift our attitude in any moment, no matter what has happened.    
Reflective intelligence hones your perceptions and responses to any event, any issue.  You can uncover and examine complex patterns of “thinking” that could derail your resilience and rewire them if you wish to.
You can learn to pause and become present, notice and name, allow-tolerate-accept, observe – to increasingly complex objects of awareness – sensations, emotions, thoughts, patterns of thought, beliefs, assumptions, values, points of view, identities.  Mindfulness even allows us to observe the processes of the brain that creates those “mental contents” and shift them to something more flexible and “open-minded” when necessary.
Many people think of mindfulness as a kind of thinking or cognition. Not exactly. Mindful awareness is more about being with rather than thinking about – knowing what you are experiencing while you are experiencing it.  This awareness and reflection about experience (and your reactions to your experience) creates choice points in your brain.  You can respond flexibly to whatever is happening, moment by moment by moment.
Here’s my own story of shit happens, but shift happens, too, to illustrate mindfulness

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com