Identity Through Social Media

Identity Through Social Media

Several months ago, I had the privilege to visit one of my dearest friends in another city. Since we so rarely get to see one another, we tried to take a photo together, and I planned to put it on Facebook and Instagram. It took no fewer than 15 tries to get a good shot. Every time my eyes were open, hers were closed. When both of our eyes were open, I wasn't smiling. In the next shot, she was distracted by someone to her left. Finally, we were both smiling, with our eyes open, and looking into the camera, but there was a huge group of tourists in the background, blocking the entire landmark we were standing in front of. Finally, we got a halfway decent picture with both of us and the landmark all in the picture.

Please... Don't Come Out!!!

Please... Don't Come Out!!!

One of the aspects of my job that I love – probably more than anything else – is when I know I have helped someone to be their very best.  When someone comes to see me because they want to resolve a personal conflict or to find a path forward for a more authentic life, I will often encourage them to envision what life will look like on the other side…when they have done the work and can see a different way of being.  This is often challenging.  Many people can’t see what the other side looks like…they can only see the mire they are in presently.

Parenting with HOPE when things seem HOPELESS

The day before my second son was born I sat in my hospital room, a place I had called home for nearly a week due to strict bed rest orders, and cried because I knew what it meant to have to share my child with the world. Tomorrow he would no longer be just mine. I would no longer be the only one who could feel him move and squirm and kick. I would no longer be the only one who knew him, really knew him. He would be part of the world and the world was a scary place...

Hey Joe Cool… It ain’t about you!

Hey Joe Cool… It ain’t about you!

One of my favorite things about working with men is talking about manhood.  Really understanding where their definition of manhood was developed and how it is present in their everyday life.  This conversation is really interesting as most men are thinking about this for the first time.

The Four Buckets of Feelings

The Four Buckets of Feelings

Often, people in my office get confused about what they are feeling.  When asked to name the feeling they are experiencing, they often name one of four buckets of feelings:  Glad, Sad, Mad, and Anxious.  Every feeling we have gets thrown into one of those four generalized buckets.   Then, the same people start to get frustrated when their partners don’t understand the feeling or why they are experiencing it. 

Using Social Thinking to Teach Mindful Eating to Kids

Using Social Thinking to Teach Mindful Eating to Kids

Social Thinking is a technique used to teach social skills to kids with social learning disabilities, particularly those on the autism spectrum.  In fact, many school systems use this model to teach ALL kids about social construct.  Developed by Michelle Garcia Winner, this model teaches students to think about how others perceive them in the world using concrete analogies. For example, check out this video looking at "super-flex thinking" vs "rock brain" thinking.  I reference the zones of regulation (one component of Social Thinking) a lot when working on food choice with my clients who are on the autism spectrum.  The system allows kids to evaluate how "regulated" they are using visuals; green is optimal.

The Importance of Difference

The flashing lights of the cop car were in the rearview mirror, and I felt a wave of fear wash over me.  I had absolutely no idea why I was being pulled over.  I tried to ground myself by getting a clear picture of the situation:  My body was in a rental car in Texas, my heart was in my throat, my stomach was in a knot, and all of a sudden my mind was with one of my clients.

Mini Mindfulness

I talk a big game when it comes to the transformative nature of mindfulness practices. I discuss the benefits of mindfulness with clients, offer demonstrations on techniques, and brainstorm ways to incorporate practices into daily routines. I recognize full well, however, that doing these practices regularly is often easier said than done.

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Empathy: The Missing Ingredient for Rock Solid Trust

Trust in our relationships is at an all time low. The problem is that in order to build trust, we have to know how to understand one another – we have to be stellar at empathy. I wonder, if you added “empathy” to your LinkedIn skills right now, how many people would endorse you for it?

Empathy, especially for men, can be a hard sell. It sounds too “warm and fuzzy.” But there’s plenty of scientific research supporting an effort to do it right. Strong empathy http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/empathy/definition skills are related to better marriages, less crime, and more loyal business customers.

How strong is your empathy muscle? Take this quick quiz to gain some insight:http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ei_quiz/.

Wherever you are on the empathy scale today, the good news is that you can get better. Empathy is a social skill - the more you use it the stronger it gets. Before we get to the nuts and bolts of empathy, let me clarify what empathy has to do with building trust. In the first part of this series we discovered that humans crave control http://www.gregmatos.com/gm-blog/empowerment/build-unshakeable-trust in their relationships. We’re always trying to size up http://www.gregmatos.com/gm-blog/empowerment/trust-sizing-know our colleagues and partners to figure out if we can truly trust them.

Enter Empathy.

Remember the last time you thought someone really understood you and how you felt? Chances are they were skillful empathizers. It’s also probably the case that you felt more comfortable with them and likely trusted them more.

Before we jump into ways to improve our empathy, let’s get a better read on where you are in your relationships today. Try this:

*When you’re with your significant other or a close friend next time, focus on doing the following two things:*

  1. *Ask questions, don’t assume you know. *We’re not mind readers and most of us don’t guess very well. When you’re listening to a story, ask questions to clarify meaning: “Do you mean _?”

  2. *Listen for feelings. *Focus on tone of voice and look for subtle expressions of sadness, excitement, or frustration. The most important thing is to be looking – then follow up with #1, by asking with loads of curiosity: “Are you feeling __?”

Practice this for at least 10-minutes a day for the next week and stay tuned for the last installment in this series. We’ll jump into the science of empathy and why it’s so powerful.

*If you think your spouse “just doesn’t have a clue” about how you feel or lacks the empathy muscle all together, send them my way:* *request a free 15-minute phone consultation* http://www.gregmatos.com/contact.

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Trust: Sizing Up What You Know

Relationships are tricky and getting trickier. Trust is built on familiarity http://www.gregmatos.com/empowerment/build-unshakeable-trust, which feeds our need for control and predictability in our relationships. But as our society and relationships become more complex, it’s becoming hard to measure how accurately you know someone – is your sense of familiarity just a ruse?

As my clients will tell you, I often bring these complicated relationship questions back to the fact that we’re basically primates and tribal. We size people up based on rudimentary cognitive shortcuts, heuristics that help us deal with the enormous amounts of social information we process on a daily basis.

These shortcuts were more useful when we lived in small groups of people that looked, dressed, and spoke like us. Fast forward to a modern metropolitan city and the heuristics fail big time. You can’t judge a book by its cover and that can be nerve-wracking.

Example: You start a new job and are instantly comfortable around a team member who is always well dressed, smiling, and confident. He gets tasked with leading a new project and assigns you an odd task. You do it because you sense you can trust him, but the project ends up failing miserably – where did you go wrong?

Here are the two primary reasons our strategies are ineffective:

1. We don’t know our own cognitive shortcuts. You absolutely must figure out what values and preconceptions you have around – at minimum - the following areas: social class (rich vs. poor people), gender, and race. If you’re spending less time scrutinizing what someone says because they look like you or remind you of yourself, you’re in danger of being duped by familiarity.

2. We’re responding to hunches versus observable evidence. Hunches rarely hold water. If you’re not sure why you trust someone, it might be worth connecting that feeling to observable evidence or data: what have you seen in that person’s actions that makes you think they actually should be trusted?

Bottom Line: Our cognitive shortcuts are adaptive but many times off the mark. Whether you’re sizing up how well you actually know someone, make sure to identify concrete facts that support your assessment. You can’t do this with everyone you interact with but it’s worth practicing with those closest to you.

If you want to get in the habit of assessing the validity of your thoughts or don’t want to make investments in the wrong person again, let’s talk http://www.gregmatos.com/contacts about learning new skills that will help.

*Stay tuned for the next installation of this series about maximizing trust and empathy in your relationships and business. Miss the first one? *Check it out http://www.gregmatos.com/empowerment/build-unshakeable-trust!

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The Importance of Endings

The Importance of Endings

Beginnings get a lot of attention.  Baby’s first word, the first day of school, your first kiss.  Making new friends, starting new jobs.  New cars, new homes, new pairs of shoes.  We love beginnings because they are pregnant with the promise of opportunity and the hope of growth.  We tend to approach beginnings with planfulness.  We daydream, we prepare, we feel the butterflies of nervous anticipation.

How to Build Unshakeable Trust

How to Build Unshakeable Trust

Your friends, colleagues, and spouse are driven by a few core motivations – one of them is control. We humans are programmed to master our environment and this gets tricky when dealing with other humans. Why?

Transition More Effectively From Work To Home

Transition More Effectively From Work To Home

A week ago my front door broke and it was the best thing ever! It reminded me of an important lesson that had slipped through the cracks of the daily hustle of modern life - more about that in a second...

Football changed my life!: Boundaries, Preferences and Behaviors

Football changed my life!: Boundaries, Preferences and Behaviors

There has been a common theme going in much of the work I have been doing with couples of late.  I am hearing folks coming in talking about how their partner responds to them in a way that makes them feel emotionally assaulted.  Often, these couples are well intentioned, loving, and looking for connection but for some reason they are having arguments that do not make sense.

A Power Solution for Improving Focus, Mood, and Self-Esteem

A Power Solution for Improving Focus, Mood, and Self-Esteem

The simple truth is that we aren’t designed to be glued to a computer screen or in an office all day. Our brains have evolved to thrive in sunlight, in lush green surroundings, and by the water. Since I think we’ve seen the last of snow in Boston (fingers crossed), it’s time to jumpstart our cognitive batteries and kickoff this spring with a plan to leverage our local resources.

How (And Why) To Say Yes To Negative Emotions

How (And Why) To Say Yes To Negative Emotions

We say “no” all the time. Sometimes we do so subtly, as a way to deny an emotion, swallow our words, or feel the disgust of “Ugh! Not that again!”

I don’t think I’m alone in this. No one likes to feel things which are uncomfortable… especially negative emotions.

Learning from Pregnancy Loss

Learning from Pregnancy Loss

My husband and I know we will be parents.  We’ve thought a lot about how we would parent, with a vague knowledge that all of it would probably go out the window when we were faced with reality – but we hadn’t really thought about how we would become parents.  Frankly, as a heterosexual couple, we thought it would be easy.

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Clearing Your Space

Recently I was in Boca de Tomatlan, Mexico for a workshop with other clinicians and practitioners of the 4 dimensional approach to sex and intimacy.  Every morning, before we would begin our work, we would clear our space.  Clearing space involved using sound (a drum, a rattle, etc.), scent (copal, sage, incense, etc), or other approach to sanctify the area we would be learning and growing in to allow us to be present, to remove negative energy and to set a space that invited intention.

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Growing Pains

I play many roles in my life.   Partner, father, therapist, teacher, business owner to name a few.  These roles keep me very busy and I often feel the crushing weight of responsibility on me.  Normally I manage it well and focus on meaningful self-care and attachment to positive people (just as I tell my patients to do!).  I am intentional and mindful of what I need to do to ensure that I am meeting the many requirements that are put on me. 

 

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Do We Need to Win the Lottery to Have the Life we Dream Of?

The Powerball drawing yielded no jackpot winner and the total dollar amount that the potential winning ticket could take home is $1.4 Billion.  It is amazing hearing from many of the hopefuls all of the amazing things they would/could do with the money and how their lives would change for the better.  I have also allowed myself to fantasize about all of the differences I could make in the world and in my own life if I was to be the lucky winner.

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