Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Emotional Weight Loss from Sadness

I was recently interview on a network news show about a reality star's weight issue. She had recently lost a tremendous amount of weight over a short period and I was asked to comment on the mental health surrounding such weight loss and it’s influence on the public, especially young girls.

She appears to have lost between 20 and 30 pounds, by my estimation, over a three month period. According to the reporter, she stated that she lost the weight from sadness. I stated that it’s not healthy to lose that much weight that fast especially if she is not doing it through a well managed diet. When you are purposefully trying to lose weight, losing one to two pounds a week is safe.

Losing weight in a healthy manner includes exercise and eating healthy foods and supplementing with vitamins to replace the vitamins you are not getting from a restricted diet. If she lost all that weight from not eating because she was unhappy, then she was not taking care of her body. She was probably not eating the healthiest foods nor taking vitamins nor exercising if she was not taking care of her body. That alone is unhealthy way to lose weight.

Aerobic exercise is very important to maintaining good health and it also helps to lift us out of depression. Her unhappiness combined with weight loss sounded more like a possible depression. When we are depressed, we can stop eating because nothing feels pleasurable to us anymore.

Instead of seeking pleasure, depressed people sometimes turn inward and isolate away from pleasurable opportunities. People suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can also lose weight as a symptom of the disorder. Often, we can’t lift ourselves out of a major depression or PTSD by ourselves. At those times, we may want to seek out a therapist to help us through those times.

I have a sense that she is not really setting a bad example for girls in this particular case. If she were touting her sudden weight loss as a sexy desirable thing to do, then yes she would be doing young girls a disservice. I’m not so sure that this is what she is doing. This seems to be something episodic for her and that she’ll probably go back to her more natural weight when she has resolved the issues in her life that are triggering this weight loss.

At least she was aware of the connection between the sadness and the weight loss. Undesired weight loss is a sign that something is wrong emotionally and that something needs to be addressed. She has an opportunity serve as a wonderful example to young girls as someone who listens to her body and her feelings and takes action to take care of and respect it when it speaks. We all go through phases of sadness, fear, loneliness and depression. That’s normal.

By honoring those emotions with patience, respect and self-love, we are able hear the quiet whispers of what those feelings are trying to tell us about ourselves. Her body may be trying to get her emotional attention. She may want to listen to what it is trying to tell her. My guess is that her body is asking for more love and acceptance of herself. In order to do this, that love must be found from within and not from the outside.

Always consult your physician should you experience sudden or unexpected weight loss. It could indicate a serious medical condition that needs attention.

For more information on Dr. James E. Walton you may log onto his website at LAtherapist.com There you will find free affirmation downloads, videos, self-help CDs and helpful topical pages for you to explore.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Introduction to Dreams - A Window to Our Souls

Each morning most of us awaken with a vague awareness of having been somewhere else. Holding onto bits and pieces of images from a dream state, we often dismiss them as flights of fancy from a creative mind. We then go about our day without giving them a second thought. Often, these wisps of visual imagination are forgotten within moments of arising from our beds.

We might wonder if they do hold any valuable information for us. Certainly, throughout history many cultures from around the world have held those nightly visions sacrosanct. But do they hold anything for us in this modern world today? Dreams, what are they? where do they come from? do they hold any value for us? and how can we work with them? are some of the topics I’ll be exploring over the next few months on this blog.

During each night of sleep, we experience an average of four or five cycles of dreaming. Dreaming is an essential part of maintaining good mental health. If we are denied the dream experience, such as being awakened before the dream cycle begins, we tend to awaken exhausted as though we didn’t receive any sleep. If this were to continue for several days, we would begin to experience dreams in our waking state known as hallucinations. Although science cannot say for sure the exact purpose of our dreams, it does acknowledge that dreaming is an essential part of good mental health. Respecting, listening and understanding our dreams can only enhance our experience in the waking world.

Some people view dreams as an expression of our projective selves. That is the part of ourselves that we deny or that is unexpressed during our waking state. Others view dreams as unexpressed wishes and desires of the dreamer. Some people believe that dreams are “alive.” That they have lives and bodies of their own. That they are not mere projections of the dreamer and that the dreamer is not the center of the dream. Still, others view dreams as divination of the future and others view dreams as the voice of nature and/or the collective unconscious.

I personally believe that all of these and more hold validity and should not be dismissed off hand in a desperate bid to confine something as elusive as a dream to a ridged rule. To distill the meaning of dreams to a simple constrictive definition cuts off our full relationship to this profound and dynamic world.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a dream is worth even more. When we reduce a description of a painting to words, we lose something of its essence. Words, as very important as they are, still require a reducing or containing of an image in order for it to be conveyed verbally to another. In the process, we lose something. Have you ever tried to tell a friend of a situation that you experienced, only finding yourself defaulting to, “You just had to be there” out of frustration because words “failed” you in expressing the essence of what you were trying to say? Words are very limiting by their nature.

When we try to define a dream through words, we are doing the very same thing. We are distilling it down to what we think is important and eliminating other essences. What we end up with is more like bleached white bread than the stone oven baked seven grain whole crackling wheat bread we started out with. It’s obviously lost a lot of its substance.

Drawing from the inspiration of Dr. Stephen Aizenstat at Pacifica Graduate Institute of Psychology, we can do something about this. First, approach the dream without words if you can do this. Listen to the dream present itself. Do not try to associate the dream with other events that are going on in your life. Do not talk about how you feel about the dream. At this point, this can be very limiting and stop your creative understanding process. Just listen to the dream as it is presented. Later, you can talk about your feelings and associations. For now, just be with the dream in a very still state.

There will be many more writings on dreams. This is a first installment as an introduction. For more information on Dr. James E. Walton you may log onto his website at LAtherapist.com There you will find free affirmation downloads, videos, self-Help CDs and helpful topical pages for you to explore.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Relationship and Career Profiler - What's Yours?

Try scoring yourself on the "The Relationship/Career Profile" and see if your personality matches your career.

Knowing your relaxation personality profile can be helpful in understanding yourself, choosing a career and knowing what methods of communication you might respond best to. Rate how closely you agree with the statements below and add up the total your score then match it with your personality chart at the bottom.

Scoring by Points:
Never – 1
Sometimes – 2
Half the Time – 3
Most of the Time – 4
Always – 5


1. How often do you initiate sex?
2. How often are you the first to apologize?
3. Do you enjoy makeup sex?
4. Do you enjoy sex with the lights on?
5. Are you comfortable with a hug from a stranger?
6. Do you enjoy traveling to new places and meeting new people?
7. Do you enjoy public displays of expression and affection?
8. Do you require others to go with you to the movies?
9. Do you easily express your emotions and feelings toward others?
10. Do you enjoy spending money on yourself?
11. Does your handwriting slant to the right?
12. The perfect evening for me is leaving home and meeting new people...
13. How important is the label of your clothing?
14. How important is it that others like you?
15. How often are your hands warm?
16. I enjoy being busy...
17. I enjoy working with my hands...
18. For me, form over function is important...
19. I don’t sweat the details...
20. How easy is it for you to overlook the flaws in others?

If your personality score is...
20 – 35 You're the Introvert
36 – 51 You're the Inquisitor
52 – 68 You're the Trouble Shooter
69 – 84 You're the Trailblazer
85 – 100 You're the Performer

Click here to find out the meaning of your personality score.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Coping with Holiday Stress & Blues

The holidays are approaching and it can be an exciting time. People are busy making plans to visit with loved ones, attend parties, throw dinners and travel long distances. The holidays are presented by the media as a magical time of fun and celebration. They are presented as a time of renewed connection with family members, partners and loves. We are fed images of shining happy faces who are meeting, greeting and exchanging gifts in front of a backdrop of abundance and welcoming arms. I say, “Sign me up!”

However, the reality we experience can be quite different. Generally, we are facing financial strains, time pressures and unresolved family issues as a result of the holiday season. I'm not saying this to take away of the magic we might experience during this time, however, these are real experiences that people face during the holidays. We tend to place so much pressure on ourselves to have a good time, that we end up having a miserable time from all the pressure we place on ourselves.

First, try to maintain a realistic perspective on what you are able and not able to do during the holiday season. Many times, people feel that they have to attend every invite they receive and this can become overwhelmingly stressful. Become clear on what you are willing and not willing to do. Pare down your commitments to what feels reasonable to you and what you are comfortably able to do. You may have to graciously decline some of the invites to keep your sanity and reduce your stress level. Prioritize what events and social gatherings are important to you and just do those. You don’t have to do everything that comes your way. After all, it’s not reasonable to stop your normal day to day schedule or cram it full just because it’s the holidays.

The holidays is a time when we gather with family. Many times, those families have lots of unresolved issues that can explode during the holidays. The reason is that the physical distance we have had from those members throughout the year has played a modifying effect on our reactiveness to them. Now, the holidays are here and we are forced to be together. Given the demand on our emotions and the other stresses around the holidays, we do not have the same emotional resources at our disposal that maintains our composure when under stress. We may find that we explode at family members with very little provocation.

To help get a better handle on the situation, do not force yourself to spend much time with people who irritate you. Be realistic. Your problems with a particular relative are not going to magically disappear because it’s the holidays. Reduce your exposure or avoid that person if you can. The holidays are not the time to work out your differences. There are too many other demands on your shoulders at this time. Should you choose to work out your issues with that individual, do it at a different, less stressful time.

Another good coping stratigy is to take many short breaks from family gatherings. Go out for a short walk or talk to a friend on the phone. Taking frequent breaks can help break feelings of rising tension and reduce stress enough to allow you to reenter the situation with your family with greater composure.

If you are under financial stress, cut back on the gift giving. Buying expensive gifts is very stressful if you don’t have the means and you will be paying off that gift into the next year causing you even more stress. The idea of giving a gift is about showing a gesture of love and thought. It is not about competing for attention or buying off someone. Small gifts can have a greater impact than large expensive gifts if you put some thought into the gift.

Putting thought into the gift means give some consideration into what kind of gift the recipient would appreciate that conveys to them that you understand their interests, likes and/or who they are as people. It’s a way of showing them you appreciate them and know something about them. When you give a gift that shows the other that you understand something about them, it is truly loved and appreciated.

The holidays can also be a time of great depression. The number of individuals suffering from depression tends to rise during this time. With society at large throwing warm welcoming families, abundance, and romantic love into the faces of those who may not have those things, it can be quite an upsetting experience. Who really wants to be reminded day in and day out on such a large scale that they lack any or all of those things. It can make us feel lonely, helpless and hopeless.

If you find yourself in that situation, you need to take stock of your expectations and make sure they're realistic. Don't expect more of yourself this time of year than you would at any other time. Take a break from holiday music and television specials if you find that they're turning you into "Scrooge."

Most people dread the holidays because their inner experience is so different from what is being hyped. You should trust your own instincts and don't try to be what you're not. Keep up your normal routine and know that this day will pass too.

If, however, you are unable to shake what you think are "holiday blues" your feelings may not be about the holidays, but about other things in your life. If you need help in sorting out or dealing with this issue, seek out a licensed therapist with the training to help you do so.

To help you cope over the holiday season, you may want to check out Dr. Walton’s free audio affirmations. To watch Dr. Walton’s videos on overcoming depression you may log onto his YouTube.com site listed at LAtherapist. To assist you in stress relief or anger management over the holidays you may check out his albums on Amazon.com and iTunes. For more information on Dr. Walton you may log onto his website at LAtherapist.com.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wedding Night Sex and Beyond

There is a growing trend in America for couples to separate the night before the wedding. Your decision to do that is up to you and the requirements of your religious beliefs. However, a wedding is a rite of passage and most rites of passage call for an experience of separateness for the initiate. That separation can be utilized as a gift allowing us to honor our singleness that one last time before we let go of it forever.

In my opinion, the release of our singleness needs to be honored. It adds to the magic of the ceremony to be apart the night before. You go to bed alone the night before the wedding and mark the end of your existence as single. The next day on your wedding, you see beloved at the alter for the first time marking the beginning of your new life as a couple. That is to be honored.

There are some couples who put off sex until the wedding night. Those circumstances can really put the pressure on. If this is your situation and you find yourself exhausted on your wedding night, put sex off and structure a time of relaxation and rest instead. Wait until you have the time and are not rushed to catch a plane or even worse, staying in someone else’s house and feeling self conscious. Structure a time when you are able to be alone, relaxed and calm for the exploration of each other’s bodies. Take time with each other and above all else, lower you expectations.

Often, engaged couples do not look beyond the wedding day. The excitement of planning the event is overwhelming. There are so many things to plan and prepare for that all their energy is focused on one point: the wedding. The last thing that people expect to feel after their wedding is depression. Well, the post-wedding blues are not uncommon. Both men and women experience this phenomenon. It is much like the letdown we feel the day after a major holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

As a couple, you are moving at full steam ahead toward the wedding and after it is accomplished, you will probably experience a momentary pause. The glamor of the experience is now gone and you might feel a sense of disappointment. This is completely natural. You have both gone through a rite of passage where something was lost, your singleness, and something was born, you identity as a couple.

For more information on Dr. Walton’s self-help for weddings, log onto TheDrWaltonSeries.com. To watch Dr. Walton’s video on the History of Marriage log onto YouTube.com. For more information on Dr. Walton, and to obtain free audio affirmations log onto his website at LAtherapist.com.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What Is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis can change unwanted habits. It can change lack of motivation into a powerful desire for change and it can change your life if used correctly.

Hypnosis is a natural state that we all go in and out of every day. For the purposes of hypnosis, we can say that our minds are divided into two sections: the conscious and unconscious. In the conscious mind, we use logic, reasoning and will power. In the unconscious, we form associations and responses; it is the part of the mind that holds the imagination. It does not know the difference between fact and fantasy. The unconscious makes up 88% of our thought power; the conscious makes up only 12%. In hypnosis, we harness that 88% to our advantage because that 88% is much stronger than the 12%.

Through hypnosis, we distract the conscious part of the mind from blocking the messages we want to place in the unconscious. The distraction of our conscious mind causes us to become highly suggestible to ideas.

An example of this takes place when we are driving. Can you remember how difficult it was, learning to drive a car? The first few times you did it, you had to remember a lot. The first time you drove on a highway, you had to remain alert and probably drove slowly and cautiously. Now, you just get into the car and drive without thinking. Sometimes you might actually find yourself passing by your exit, or wondering how you arrived at your destination, you did not remember getting there. You may have found yourself getting into your car on a Saturday intending to go to the store only to find yourself driving halfway to work before you realized what you were doing.

These are all cases of driving your car while you are under a state of hypnosis. It is actually a very safe state to be driving in. While we are driving under hypnosis, we are using our unconscious mind, which already knows how to drive a car. If we did not use the unconscious part of our mind when we drove, we would have to learn how to drive each time we got into the car. This would not be a safe thing to do.

The unconscious knows how to drive the car. It enables us to do all of the maneuvers that are automatic for driving. What we need to remain conscious of, is where we are going. That is why we end up going to work on a Saturday when we intend to go to the store. We simply go into hypnosis as soon as we get into the car and drive without thinking. For some of us, the steering wheel becomes the trigger that sends us into instant hypnosis. As we place our hands on the wheel, our unconscious takes over and we begin to drive.

We instinctively know what to do. That is because all of the associations with the trigger are lodged deep in our unconscious and we respond to that.

Clinical hypnosis in a therapist’s office is something very similar. With hypnosis for relaxation, you place a trigger in your unconscious mind that will allow you to feel peace and safety instantly anywhere you are. With it, you can convert any stressful feelings of anxiety into healthy feelings of empowering excitement. You place this trigger there yourself and you have access to it at anytime.

Through hypnosis you are using the most powerful part of your mind, the unconscious, to reduce your feelings of anxiety through the creation of images. This association is similar to the association you might now have with a steering wheel and automatically driving. Your unconscious will experience these images as real since it can not distinguish the difference between reality and fantasy.

Through hypnosis you can change many different types of behavior simply by reprogramming your unconscious mind. You can find greater peace in your life, fall asleep at night more quickly, reduce tension and anxiety, stop smoking, lose weight, get motivated for exercise, improve test taking and memory, overcome many different types of fears, resolve grief, and heal old wounds from breakups and negative experiences.

For more information on Dr. Walton’s self-help hypnosis audios, log onto www.TheDrWaltonSeries.com. For more information on Dr. Walton, and to obtain free audio affirmations log onto his website at LAtherapist.com.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Wedding Night, both Straight and Gay

This writing applies to both straight and gay couples who chose to get married. Studies from UCLA's Williams Group show that these two groups are nearly identical.

On the wedding night, many newly weds place tremendous pressure upon themselves to perform sexually and we all know that pressure to perform can inhibit the performance and enjoyment of the sexual experience. If you talk to others, you will find that they were so tired that first night after the wedding from all the anxieties, hubbub, and preparations that had to be handled leading up to the wedding that they were too tire to make love that night, and just fell asleep. They just put it off until the next morning when they were rested and not pressured.

And certainly, if the man has difficulty achieving an erection that night, it is understandable. Stress and anxiety make it difficult for men to achieve and maintain erections and it has nothing to do with their desire for their partner. If your partner has difficulty achieving an erection on the wedding night, cuddle and put off sex until there is less pressure and he is rested and there is time for intimacy.

Remember, you are looking at a long term relationship. An orgasm is not the goal. The real goal is a marriage of closeness and intimacy. Don’t make an orgasm the goal. It’s too pressured. Remember, you are both going to be exhausted. You have been performing for weeks since the announcement. Do yourself a favor. Drop your performance on the wedding night. Experience the high of lying in each other’s arms and just being. There will be plenty of time for sex in the future. Be real with each other and begin building a relationship together based on love and acceptance.

Some people pressure themselves to have the best sex ever on their wedding night. It won’t be, so drop that expectation. You will be exhausted and there is a good chance you have had some alcohol. It is an unrealistic demand to place on yourself. Intimate wonderful sex develops over time and it builds as your spiritual, emotional and physical selves grow together.

It is not uncommon for one or the other to fall asleep as soon as they hit the bed on the wedding night. If this happens to you, take a deep breath, and remember that you love them. Remember the good times you have had together. Put a cover on them and lay a rose by the pillow and give them a kiss goodnight. Show them how much you love them when they awaken in the morning after the long deserved rest that you are both entitled to. It is a great metaphor for what marriage is like. You have to compromise. You don’t always get what you want, but through it all, you still love each other.

Now, before you fire off an angry email at me I want to clarify that this, in no way, should be interpreted as a suggestion that one should kowtow to the other. However, it is important for the health of the relationship that you both take care of each other. So at times, one of you may need to put aside personal desires for the good of the relationship. This give and take must go in both directions and not end up where one person is always being the accommodator to the other.

For more information on Dr. Walton’s self-help for marriage, log onto TheDrWaltonSeries.com. You can also follow his tips of the day on Twitter@LAtherapist. To watch the video of Dr. Walton’s History of Marriage log onto YouTube.com. For more information on Dr. Walton, and to obtain free audio affirmations log onto his website at LAtherapist.com.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wedding Night Jitters and Other Common Wedding Anxieties

Let’s take a look at some of the sticky issues that are likely to appear around your wedding and how to handle them.

The first topic we will look at is commonly known as the wedding night jitters.

In today’s age, people are more sexually active in their relationships than they were in the past. It is highly likely that you have been having regular sex with your fiancĂ© long before the wedding night. The biggest fear for the wedding night will probably not be about sex. More than likely, the biggest fear is going to be “is he or she really the right one for me?” “Have I dated him/her long enough?” “Do I really know this individual?” After all, you are about to do something that can’t be taken back, not even through divorce. If this happens, and nearly every engaged couple has experienced it, reflect back on the good times you have had together and remember why you love him. These jitters will pass.

Now, some other common anxieties you might encounter on your wedding night could involve hotel reservation mix-ups, canceled flights, and other unpleasant surprises that seem to fling themselves upon us at crucial moments. To survive this part, be flexible. View any glitches that come along as wedding survival stories to be told in the future. As they mellow with time, they may be seen as gifts to be treasured by you as you tell them over and over again. Every married couple has experience wedding survival stories, just ask them.

For more information on Dr. Walton’s self-help for weddings, log onto TheDrWaltonSeries.com. You can also follow his tips of the day on Twitter@LAtherapist. For more information on Dr. Walton, and to obtain free audio affirmations log onto his website at LAtherapist.com.
Press Release Catch Dr. Walton talking about the History of Marriage on YouTube.