Friday, December 31, 2010

Why Do Couples Divorce and What Are The Predictors?

Threats of divorce are often attempts to fix the relationship.  Many times we want the pain within the relationship to die, but not the relationship.   Often times, when divorce is mentioned, each of the individuals in the relationship were young and never achieved individuation from their own families of origin before they were married.  In this case, their identities became shaped by the demands, actions and needs of their partner.  Divorce becomes a highly frightening thought because they have never been on their own and have no idea who they really are as individuals. 

The highest rate of divorce typically happens during the first two years of marriage when couples are in the process of trying out the marriage.  There are many reasons for the endings of these marriages.  Frequently, they are based in the impulsiveness of getting married to feel the rush and not thinking through its commitments and expectations.  Once the romance wears off, so does the desire to remain married.

Marital problems also begin to arise at the seventh year of marriage, after the first child arrives and when the first child turns 14 years old.  Children are a major stressor to marriages.  Often, people will chose to have children to “save” a marriage.  Then, it turns out that the addition of children actually put more stress on the relationship.  This may be one of the reasons that childless couples past the seven-year mark have lower rates of divorce that couples with children.

Two other trouble points are when the marriage is at the 20-year mark and the 40-year mark.  At 20 years, couples are facing the children leaving the nest.  Now, the couple has to re-establish a relationship with each other without the daily interaction and distraction of the children.  They are faced with more intimate interaction with each other, and may have the urge to fulfill desires that were suppressed during the time of raising children.  Conflict can arise if those desires are seen as a threat to the relationship. 

If they had used the children in the past as a way of regulating intimacy or creating distance, they will now have to face each other without that regulating force.  If the couple does not have clear roads of communication, or if they cannot express their feelings, this spells disaster for the relationship.

At the 40-year mark, couples are looking for companionship as they move into old age.  Surprisingly, there are a high number of divorces at this point.  Couples can arrive at this point and discover that they don’t feel companionship with each other.  One may have been at the service of the other the entire time.  They raised the children, they indulged the desires of the other, and they kept things together and basically kept the relationship together through their own sacrifice.  Now, they are tired of sacrificing themselves.  As they approach the sunset years, they want to live in peace or create a space for themselves that they never experienced earlier in their life.  If their spouse is not willing or able to accommodate them on this request, there is a good chance that they will look towards divorce as a way of attaining the space they need. 

Another point where divorce all too frequently, and unfortunately, occurs is when the wife of a couple falls ill. This is especially true for wives with a terminal illness such as cancer.  Men show a higher occurrence of divorcing their stricken wives than women divorcing a stricken husband.  One need look no further than senator John McCain or senator John Edwards to make the case in point.  Both of these high profile men left their wives after the discovery of their illnesses. 

Interestingly enough, an affair does not necessarily spell the end of a marriage in divorce.  In many cases, an affair draws attention to discord and trouble in a marriage and with the right assistance and intervention they may go onto a closer more solid relationship.

There are several predictors for a divorce.  In good relationships, there are approximately seven positive exchanges for every negative exchange.  Relationships that are in trouble have only one positive exchange for every negative exchange.  How a couple speaks to each other is another predictor.  Do you regularly speak harshly with each other?  If so, that can be another indicator.  Criticism, contempt, defensiveness and the silent treatment are all indicators of a troubled relationship.  All of these occurring together are a sure sign of trouble.

For more information on Dr. Jim's self-help audios with free samples, log onto  For more information on Dr. Jim, and to obtain free audio affirmations, log onto his website at LAtherapist.comYou can check out his page on Facebook at Healing a Broken Heart. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Therapist as Shaman

Shamanism appears to be the earliest form of healing that we are aware of to date.  It has existed throughout the world from Russia to Australia, from China to the Americas.  Although there is no one explanation as to how shamanism spread throughout the world, the two that are most popular today is that either shamanism began in Siberia and spread, or that it sprang up spontaneously throughout the world.  There are common aspects of shamanism found throughout the world.  They are findings of teeth, bones, feathers, bird feet, helmets with streamers, skirts with skins, mirrors, crystals, horns, drums, antlers, and statues with toungs that allow researchers to determine whether shamanism existed within a particular society.
            The shaman believes that evil spirits cause illness for the body.  They believe that they can create magic with their words and ritual actions that can drive the evil spirits from the body.  To do this, they must first protect themselves from these spirits, then enter into an altered state of consciousness characterized by a state of ecstasy.  They believe they are able to visit three worlds of reality:  The Under World that represents terror and power, The Middle World in which they see the spirits of this world among us, and The Upper World that is the world of deities.  When Someone claims that they are able to perceive those three worlds, they are having a shamanistic experience. 
                What distinguishes a shaman from a professional priest or healer, is that he is a part-time practitioner.  The training passes down individually from teacher to student.  There are no large schools which train people to become a shaman.  There are two principal ways for a person to become a shaman.  The first way is to be born into a shaman lineage and follow in the footsteps of the ancestors.  The second, and most common way, is to experience a calling for the position.  A calling is perceived by a series of events recognized by the tribe and the individual.  Such events involve:  separation, communication with other beings, ecstatic experiences, a sense they are going to be a shaman and the seeking out of a shaman to train with.
            Psychotherapists can learn much from the shaman.  The Shaman represents a multi-dimensional view of reality.  He believes that reality is a creation of the unconscious.  As therapists, we too would do well to learn how to embrace a multi-dimensional view of reality.  By understanding that there is a conscious and unconscious, as well as the different levels of the unconscious:  the world unconscious, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious, we may gain a better insight into the issues of our clients.  I have often seen a client's material world appear to match his/her personal outlook on life.  By understanding this process, which the shaman seems to know so well, we may be able to help our clients pull themselves out of undesirable real world experiences. 
            The shaman expands what is and what can be through their and their clients' belief in magic.  There are times when therapists encounter patients who are only able to see the world through a lens of black and white.  Often, a client may feel that there is no way he will ever be able to change his life.  By assisting our clients to view the possibilities of change as the shaman does with his clients, we may be able to help the client break the chains of status quo that binds him to the old and possibly self-destructive ways.
            The shaman acknowledges that she is not the one who is creating the change for the client.  She is aware that it is a greater force that she can not control, but only influence.  We too, must recognize that we are not able to change the client, but can only influence him/her with new out looks and ideas.  It is up to the client to accept what is given to her and use it in her life.  As therapists, we have no control over the client's unconscious mind.  This is a great force over which we have no control.  We may be able to assist with some influence, but we must always be as cognizant, as the shaman, that we cannot control it.
                 The shaman lives in the real world.  She holds employment outside the shaministic activities.  She does not allow her activities as a shaman to fill her with false pride, or allow her to look down on others with a sense of being superior.  It might be easy for some psychotherapists to become filled with a sense of self-importance as they watch their clients improving.  These therapists could easily become arrogant and loose touch with empathy for the client.  The shaman never forgets that she is a human being and is not above or below the client, but is able to stay in touch with the humanness of herself and the client's.  The Shaman works together with the client, as does a psychotherapist.  The shaman does not blame herself if a cure does not come forth.  The same should hold true for a therapist.  If a therapist believes too strongly that she alone is responsible for change in her clients' lives, then she may be setting him or herself up for over-involvement in a client's life and lose her objectivity.
            The shaman also protects himself before practicing his trade.  So should a therapist.  Often therapists neglect to protect themselves from a client's emotional and mental states.  Depression and anxiety are two especially contagious emotions.  There are times when a therapist comes home from the office, only to find that he is experiencing similar emotions of the client, or they just feel especially drained from a particular patient.  Shamans do not feel drained from their work.  They do not take on any of the emotional states of the client.  Shamans enjoy their work.  As therapists, we too need to protect ourselves so we may continue to enjoy our work and recognize the boundary between ourselves and our work, and ourselves and our clients.
            As part-item healers, shamans are able to keep their egos separate from the work.  Professional therapists have a difficult time keeping their egos out of their work.  The part time status of the shaman allows them to deal with the real world.  This is the world from where their clients come.  It also allows them to perceive themselves as a part of the society and an understanding of the people for whom they perform their work. 
               Therapists would do well to work part time, or at least have outside hobbies and activities that involve them out side of their careers.  By doing so, their chances of defining themselves by their careers and losing perspective life would diminish greatly.  They would then be able to maintain and enhance themselves as useful assistants to their clients.
            Both shaman and therapists provide their clients with a conceptual framework with which to work.  The clients of both come to them often with chaotic and vague distress.  Shamans explain to their clients why the client is having the experience, and what they can expect of an outcome.  Just knowing these simple "answers" can help a client begin a healing process.  As therapists, we too can assist our clients in understanding why something is going on for them and what they can expect.  It will help them to conceptualize their distress and give them hope that maybe something can relieve their discomfort.  This arouses a hope for cure.  Without a hope for cure, the client will probably not want to bother with working on their issues. 
            In order to arouse this hope for a cure the shaman creates an air of authority through the belief that she is in touch with powerful forces and fosters the belief that she will struggle with the client against the forces that cause her malaise.  As psychotherapists, we create our authority through our education and licenses.  Knowledge and experience may be viewed as powerful forces that psychotherapists are in touch with.  If psychotherapists take an approach similar to the shaman's with their clients, by fostering the belief that they will struggle with the client for change, then maybe that would encourage a closer relationship with the client allowing for depth work to take place.
            The shaman elicits vivid emotions in the client.  From the shaman's point of view, these emotions are very helpful in the healing process.  We can learn from the shaman to remember the important aspect of assisting our clients in experiencing emotions.  Psychotherapists assist their clients by leading them into the pain and exploring it.  As psychotherapists, we understand the importance of allowing our clients to experience their emotions.
             The work of the shaman should serve as a teaching guide to psychotherapists.  The shaman reminds us that the work of the mind is as much as an art as a science.  It is the art of our work that keeps us in touch with the client.  It is the art that sparks our creativity and puts us in touch with our humanity.  Like the shaman, we experience a calling that draws us to this profession from somewhere deep in our souls, beyond our physical world at the point where we are aware of our connection to all that exists.  If we take nothing else from the shaman, let us take his wisdom that we interconnect with all that exists; and we must work within its laws.  Science gives us the tools and knowledge; but art, the art of the shaman, gives us the creativity and understanding to use those tools in a way that can benefit mankind to the depths of his soul.

For more information on Dr. Jim's self-help audios with free samples, log onto  For more information on Dr. Jim, and to obtain free audio affirmations, log onto his website at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Overcome Old Behaviors Around Food

Many of the issues we have around food began in our childhoods.  Old family rules around food and eating can appear in our lives long after we have left home.  They are unconsciously programmed deep into our subconscious.   They show up during times of stress or when we are distracted.  As a result, we find ourselves repeating old behaviors around food that we have struggled with our entire lives, or we find ourselves repeating old behaviors that we thought we had dispensed with long ago. 

What were the rules around eating in your childhood?  Was it important that you finish your entire plate?  Many of us came from households that had very specific rituals and rules around eating and dining.  Some of these rules were helpful like washing your hands before eating.  Others were not, like requiring all the food to be eaten on your plate.  Whatever the case, we carry with us those early lessons around eating. 

It would be helpful for you to take a few moments and write down all the different rules around eating that you experienced growing up in your family.  Make a note of those that were helpful and those that were not. 

Now, take an inventory of those unhelpful behaviors that you continue to practice today.  More likely than not, you do those behaviors unconsciously and may have never thought to question them.  Behaviors such as finishing everything on your plate before eating any desert or if you take a piece of cake you must eat the entire piece and not just the frosting part that you like. 

I’m now asking you to question those old beliefs and learned behaviors.  Make a list of the one’s that are not helpful.  Were your parents over weight?  If so, what were their beliefs about their weight?  Did they hold negative feelings towards themselves?  Did they hold negative feelings towards people of average size?  Do any of those old beliefs affect you today?  Take an inventory and write these and others you come up with down on paper. 

Write down an action plan to address each one.  Then, imagine what it would be like if you no longer did those counter productive behavior around your eating experience.  Also write down what it would be like if you no longer thought those negative thoughts around eating.

For more information on losing weight, and to listen to free samples of Dr. Walton’s award-winning album, named “Best Album of the Year” at the JPF International Music Award,” log onto “Dr. Walton's Ultimate Weight Loss.” For more information on Dr. Walton, log onto Press Release

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You Can Find the Motivation to Lose Weight

Losing weight is not about hating the body you have right now.  It is about appreciating and loving that very body.  Within its own physical limitations, this body has been a wonderful and loving servant of your will. 

Your body is the point through which you experience all of your thoughts and feelings, all of your physical sensations and perceptions of the world around you.  Your body is the point through which you experience the entire reality of your life.  It is the one thing that you’ll always have with you from birth until the end of your life.  It deserves your love no matter what condition it is in at this given time. 

Your body is not your enemy; it is not working against you.  The body does not act independently from your treatment of it.  Your body only responds to the way you treat it.  It reflects the care that you give it.  If you feed it foods that cause it to gain weight, it will respond by gaining weight.  If you exercise it within reason, it will become more efficient and toned.  It is a loving servant of your will within its individual limitations. 

How you treat your body affects your health - which affects how you feel about yourself and that affects your perceptions of the world around you.  It is so important to keep it fit and healthy through appropriate exercise and eating habits in order for it to help you experience life to its fullest. 

Losing weight and becoming more fit can be done for no one else but for yourself.  Those members of your family and friends who have been urging you to lose weight love you and have your best interest at heart, but their urging alone is not enough if you are to succeed.  If you are not motivated on your own and are only bending to their demands, then you’ll only end up resenting those people who love you and sabotaging your efforts at losing weight. 

To succeed at losing weight, you must realize that you are the one in control of your decisions and life.  Losing weight is a process rather than an event.  As with all processes, the movement forward is built upon a foundation of successes and setbacks.  Our setbacks can be as valuable as our successes and are opportunities for learning more about ourselves and our desires.  Learning from our setbacks allows us to move closer to the success we desire.

It takes determination to lose weight.  Unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles are not easy to overcome.  It is both a physical and emotional sacrifice you must make when it comes to achieving your desired weight goals.  The result of a sacrifice is to make something sacred.  When you change your eating habits and adopt a healthy exercise program, you perform a sacrifice that symbolizes to yourself, and those around you, that your health and quality of life are sacred to you. 

In some Native American tribes, it was called upon for young men and women to make a sacrifice to achieve recognition of adulthood.  Often, that sacrifice involved a ritual of scaring the body.  The sacrifice you may endure on your journey to achieving your desired weight can be as meaningful to your psyche as any scar left upon the body and deserves to be honored and respected. 

A scar represents pain and injury; it also represents a capacity to heal and grow beyond what has been.  Scar material is always stronger than what existed before. 

You may have begun over eating as a response to medicating yourself from a painful emotional experience.  Food became a way of pacifying bad feelings.  Eating is a comforting and soothing experience that takes us back to younger days when we were children and a loving parent soothed our feelings with food. 

By choosing to lose weight at this time, you have chosen a sacrifice that symbolically moves you beyond the immaturity of your youth.  It may be viewed as a rite of passage into adulthood. 

For a sacrifice to have meaning, it must be a personal choice made by you alone.  True sacrifice is not an imprisonment, but rather, it is the ultimate expression of your free will and that is to be honored and revered.

For more information on losing weight, and to listen to free samples of Dr. Walton’s award-winning album, named “Best Album of the Year” at the JPF International Music Award,” log onto “Dr. Walton's Ultimate Weight Loss.” For more information on Dr. Walton, log onto Press Release

Friday, November 26, 2010

You Can Enjoy Food Even More and Still Lose Weight

A satisfying dining experience is much more than just eating food.  It involves all of our other senses as well as taste.  The environment in which we are dining, the color and presentation of the food, the smells and conversation and even the music contribute to satisfaction of our dining experience.  By noticing and experiencing each of these while you are dining, you will slow down the eating process and open up to a greater sense of satisfaction as you are dining. 

Often times, we eat so fast that we don’t even notice the flavors of what we are eating.  In our rush to consume the food as fast as we can, we miss out on the wonderful and very pleasurable experience of eating.  In an effort to bring more pleasure and awareness to our eating, it is important for us to slow down and enjoy the experience.  Actually tasting the food is an important part of enjoying the experience and getting more out of it.  In order to taste the food, we have to slow down the eating process to enjoy it. 

It is so important to eat slowly when losing weight.  It takes 20 to 30 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach has eaten something and cut off the hunger signals.  We can consume a tremendous amount of food in that 30 minute period if we aren’t careful.  By slowing down and enjoying the other experiences around you during your dining, you will not only have more opportunities to experience a wider sense of satisfaction, you will also give your brain enough time to register that you have eaten something and cut off the hunger signal. 

One way to slow down the eating process to give yourself a chance to cut off the hunger process is to chew your food slowly while putting the fork down between each bite.  While you are chewing, notice the different flavors of the food.  Notice how they mingle and try to pick apart the different ingredients that went into its creation. 

While you are chewing on the food, notice its temperature.  Is it warm or cold?  Notice its texture.  Is it crunchy or soft?  Fully experience the food that is in your mouth and enjoy the experience. 

Play with the food on your plate.  It’s ok to do.  In fact, it will help you slow down your eating.  It is a little trick that will cause you to delay the eating process and

If you are dining with others, do most of the talking yourself.  This will give your stomach a chance to send the signal to your brain that you have eaten something while enjoying conversation and receiving some attention.  

For more information on losing weight, and to listen to free samples of Dr. Walton’s award-winning album, named “Best Album of the Year” at the JPF International Music Award,” log onto “Dr. Walton's Ultimate Weight Loss.” For more information on Dr. Walton, log onto Press Release

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Shop, Therefore I Am

Shopping can be a fun and relaxing experience.  It’s a welcome break from the daily routine and can even take on a meditative quality for some individuals allowing them to process thoughts running in the back of their minds.  The discovery of a desired object or the perfect addition to decorating a room can feel like a small victory that allows us to rejuvenate and gear up for more difficult tasks. 

However, there is a point when shopping for fun on occasion crosses a line and the individual becomes what is known as a shopaholic.

Shopaholics put themselves and their families in financial danger.  Their shopping escapades are often shrouded in secrecy and feelings of humiliation.  Shopaholics will frequently run up large credit card debt and many will work more than one job to keep up with the payments.  They can even spend so much money on compulsive shopping that they are unable to pay more essential bills such as rent or utilities.  They can put their relationships in jeopardy and even put their careers at risk by spending too much time on the Internet while at work.

Some shop to medicate bad feelings.  Uncovering what those feelings are, giving them expression and dealing with them in therapy would be a way of handling this type of excessive shopping.  Some people shop during the manic phase of a bi-polar episode.   They delude themselves into thinking that they are immune to any negative effects of their over shopping behavior.  These individuals could receive benefit from medications such as mood stabilizers.

Some shopaholics are obsessive compulsive.  These shoppers feel compelled to buy multiples of any particular item.  Sometimes, they purchase multiples in different colors, or sometimes they purchase multiples of a single item telling themselves they don’t want to run out.  These individuals don’t get the “shopper’s high” that other shopaholics receive.  Instead, they are responding to the internal pressure of an impulse to shop to feel some relief of its pressure.  These individuals sometimes respond to antidepressants but cognitive/behavioral treatments such as hypnosis have been shown to be highly effective for some.  

For more information on Dr. Jim's self-help audios with free samples, log onto  For more information on Dr. Jim, and to obtain free audio affirmations, log onto his website at LAtherapist.comYou can check out his page on Facebook at Healing a Broken Heart. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2010


In the summer of 1998, my best friend of nine years was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  A pain of rarely equaled intensity shot through my soul upon hearing the news.  I was left feeling helpless to what the fates had decided.  I am including, at the end of this blog, an example of two poems that came from this experience.  The first poem was composed and completed within weeks of the diagnosis.  The second was begun six months after his death in the summer of 1999 and was completed in its final form during the spring of 2004. 
I was the last person, with the exception of his nurse, to see him alive.  He died within hours of my leaving his side.  Those last few hours we spent together in silence while I held him.  As I turned to leave, for the first time in our long relationship he mouthed the words "I love you."  We both recognized that this would be the last precious moments we would spend together on this physical plane. 
I was left with a haunting and indescribable feeling that would stay with me until the birth of the second poem, which began from a dream I had.  I have not judged these works as good or bad.  They were called from within me to be expressed; they would not let go until they were written down. 
When they were completed, I was able to say good-bye to my friend.  Both poems hold for me a mixture of relief and sadness.  I continue to hold onto, and tolerate, the duality of the feelings.
The conception of my poems usually germinates through a personal experience.  Often, it is an emotionally difficult experience that inspires me to examine my feelings more closely.  As Von Franz stated, "There must be some disruption to make us aware of what we are swimming in."  For me, the first disruption is a painfully jarring experience.  It first settles into my soul as a feeling and emerges transformed as a written story or poem.  Writing has been for me a medium through which I am able to express a calling from my soul.  Poetry comes from the soul moving to know itself.

The journey of my poetic experience begins through my emotions as I am taken down into the depths of my feelings and prepare for the journey.  The emotions grab hold of me and refuse to let go.  They then begin to make their presence felt in my daydreams and occasionally in my dreams at night.  Through these dreams, a space is created for the experience where none had existed before.  In the recesses of my mind, the expression of the experience becomes a subtle obsession.  It asks for expression.

In the request, I descend with the experience and the associated emotions.  There is always a period of time where I feel confused as to how to respond to this calling.  It is a time when the experience disturbs me.  I also note an internal struggle as to whether or not to give the experience voice.  Self-criticism can often step in the way and suggest to me that I am too small for the task at hand.  This is a time when I might let go of the idea of giving voice to the experience.  I would let it go if it were not for the persistent calling some experiences make to me through my thoughts and dreams.

I am taken deeper through my feelings and encounter the sense of this being "my work" rather than that of the voice of an experience calling from within me asking for it's expression. My ego wants to be the author of the work.  It seems to wrestle with the actual voice of the work.  The ego wants to put its mark on the work and exalt myself as a genius.  The wrestling between the actual voice of the work and my ego can last for lengthy periods of time.  There are some stories and poems I have had to leave and return to over a period of years to hear the actual voice of the work more clearly.

When the ego takes over, I lose sight of the work.  The writing begins to sound stilted.  The ego becomes obsessed with correct expression, grammar, punctuation and approval.  It also becomes obsessed with the necessity of the reader to understand the story with all of its metaphors as the ego wishes them to be understood.  The ego takes away the space for allowing the work to speak for itself.  This is done out of the ego's fear that if the work were to actually speak, it would sound foolish and would not be understood. 

My ego wants to be in control and receive the credit.  In a sense, the ego wants to define the creativity. For if we define creativity, we limit it.  By defining creativity, we place the ego's judgment upon it and thus restrict creativity by defeating its liberating effects.

Being judged is my ego's strongest fear.  It wants to be appreciated and loved by everyone.  There are many times that I stop a creative work because my ego is afraid of being judged.  It wants the work to be completely accepted by all.  It wants to bask in the glory of its brilliance.  It is a time when I have forgotten who is doing the speaking.  I am listening to the ego and not as closely to the work itself, which has its own need for expression.  In the last several years, I have become better at allowing the work to speak more clearly while relaxing my attention on the ego. 

There are also times when in the middle of a creative process, I become very sleepy.  These are times when I am locked in battle with the ego.  It is a time when I consciously turn my attention from the ego and allow myself to dream briefly.  Somewhere in the depths of my subconscious, I am able to hear the voice of the work.  It is heard through the voice of inspiration.  The words for the writing then begin to flow more freely through my mind and onto the creative medium.

This awakening from the dream with a sense of direction and inspiration may be expressed as the "Aesthetic Moment."  By the end of a series of short naps and daydreams, I emerge with a different relationship to the work.  The relationship has changed because the ego has settled and has let go of most of the control.  I do, however, have to remain vigilant of the ego's desire to return to control over the work.  It is a time in the creation process when the work has overcome the narcissism of the ego and is free to speak with its own voice.  The work has finally differentiated from the ego. 

For allowing the differentiation to take place, I am rewarded with the gift of the work.  I must accept the death of the tenacious ego and submit to the creative process of the work without trying to run it.  What was once considered by the ego as worthless drivel spoken by the work has now become meaningful.  When the ego has differentiated enough from the work, the necessary hard work of putting the voice to paper begins.  This is the moment of poesis, the actual creation of the work. 

Through this process, the work now takes on its own life and it is time for me to let it go.  It is at this point, I begin to express the voice of the work through writing.  In a flurry of activity, I begin to write down the ideas as though they are flowing from my head and through my hands automatically without thought.  I then find myself doing major revisions of what I began writing earlier.  It is a process that can take a matter of hours, weeks or years to complete.

During the period of the birth of the work, I am transformed as well.  The work has led me through spaces of my unconscious that I was not aware of.  The experience itself allows me to observe my ego’s struggle for control.  In the process, I view how my ego gets in the way of my creativity.  I become aware of the ways in which I am distracted from the work and gain insight into my resistance to completing it.

During the writing of the work, I am amazed at the depth of emotion it takes me to.  Emotions that have long been held in silence, deep from within, are given voice for the first time.  With my ego's silence, I become aware of their existence with in me.  Through my awareness of their existence, and through their expression, I am transformed.

There was a time when I was resistant about returning to a work out of fear that I was contaminating it with my ego through re-working it.  An internal conflict would take place.  I would question myself as to whether the changes I wanted to make coming from my ego or from the work itself?  I would question myself as to why I was changing the work.  Often, the answer was that there was more information or enhancement that needed to take place before the work was completed.  I often find that when I return to a work it is to enlarge and enhance it.

The anima (Jung's holding and nurturing part of the self), present in my creative process, allows me to hold the work through a period of gestation.  It quiets the goal oriented and driven to control animus (Jung’s driven part of the self) to allow the internal voices of wisdom to speak.  In the process, I gain a greater respect and trust for the ways of the anima.  I gain a greater trust in the moments of silence.  For through the silence and the holding of the work, its voice can be heard and its wisdom understood. 

Upon the completion of a work, I feel a greater connection with and understanding of the world.  It is an understanding of acceptance for the way creation unfolds rather than the drive to conquer and control creative works.  It is a moment of reflection in the process of life. 

During my creative work, I am in transference with the topic. It pulls at my soul and often can bring with it an unwelcome depth of emotional experience that would be far easier for me to ignore than experience. 
When I allow myself to step back from the work, I can hear the voice of the work more strongly.  When I re-read the work, I frequently notice nuances and connotations that were never consciously intended; yet they expand the meaning of the work. 

By beginning a work, I am stepping outside of myself and attempting to put on paper the expression of the work.  I am limited by language, intelligence and my own willingness to let go of the work and allowing it to speak.  However, in the creative process there are times I find my ego stepping aside to allow the work to speak.  During those times, the words seem to flow from my hands on to the paper without a thought.  When I allow this to happen, there are many times I am surprised by what has come out. 

By allowing the creative process to flow from me I am able to see depth in a work upon its completion that I was consciously unaware of at the time of the writing.  It allows me to view the internal voice that was calling out to speak.

It is in this "first" reading as a completed work that I am most surprised by what has come out.  This is also a time when the work approaches me again to clarify itself and inspire some changes.  The initial completion of the work allows me to put it aside.  By doing so, I become less invested in the work.  I am also allowed for the first time to understand the completed work as a whole. It now gives the work a presence in my life that seems apart from me.  The initial completion of the work allows me to physically experience its separateness.  It has now been given birth to on paper and is no longer what appeared to be a possession within my head. 

If I can recognize the work as coming from outside of myself, my ego can let go of the work as a possession of its own and learn form it.  The ego can do this if it has let go of the harsh judgment and investment in pride it would have in a work considered its own.  By viewing the work as coming from outside of itself, it does not have the investment and therefore can be open to whatever message the work itself holds.

The experience of my friend's death held a tremendous amount of personal information for me if I were only able to listen to it.  Through the creative process of writing, I was able to access some of those feelings.  The writing also seemed to help ease the pain of loss I was suffering because of his death.  It allowed me to immortalize a thought of him.  This thought was brought into the physical world and given embodiment through the poem.  It is as though if I could not be with him in the physical, I could be with his poem, which has been made physical.

The second poem was initiated by a brief nap I took on a plane back East to visit my family.  My friend had died about 6 months before.  In the dream, my friend was standing on a beach and seemed to motion to me.  I woke up immediately with the original thoughts of the poem in my head.  I hurriedly wrote them down on a piece of scrap paper and when I returned to the comfort of my home in California, I began to work with the poem. 

In the process, many of my own fears of loss and death began to surface.  I began to reflect back on other losses I had experienced in my life.  Their energy went into the poem as well.  I was experiencing transference with the poems.  I would note to myself the different emotional responses I would have each time I would work with them.  At times, they would fill me with sadness, other times I would experience anger and yet at others I would experience a sense of peace. 


The wind may not be held in our hands, or stored in a box,
to do so, it would no longer be the wind,
nor may we hold onto or confine the love of another. 
Like the wind, its beauty comes from passing over us
allowing us to feel,
to feel its freedom
and yet, it can never die,
for in its silence, it is always around us 
to stir again at a moment's notice.


My friend it is evening.
Come sit beside me
to watch the shadows cast long, reaching toward the ocean's edge.

Stay with me,
in the cooling air
that once fired the burning sands upon which we danced.

Listen with me,
as the sounds of day fade
into the timeless waves that wash upon the shore.

And be still,
as I close my eyes
to linger with the stars;
their soothing light now calls upon my soul.

Dr. James E. Walton, respected Marriage & Family Therapist, TV and

Friday, July 2, 2010

Giving and Receiving: The Sacred Dance of Life

When we are feeling angry with our partner, the fastest way to release that anger and regain a loving attitude towards them is to do a simple act of giving.  Just by doing something nice for them, we focus our attention off of the obsessive quality of our anger and refocus into the loving feelings we have for them.  The act itself is a release that allows us to feel a greater sense of purpose in our chosen relationship.

Giving in general, such as simply opening a door for someone, allows us to regain a sense of missing personal empowerment.  We may not be able to completely control our environment, and we certainly cannot control another’s actions, but we can control whether or not we do something nice for another person.  And in doing so, we reconnect with that sense of personal power that has been eluding us.

No matter what spiritual beliefs you may hold; giving, and its inseparable partner receiving, were the first acts of creation in of our world.  It was the original experience.  And for a moment, it was the only experience.  From that simple act, all of life sprang forth.  Whether you believe it was God or some other cosmic force, we were the receivers of the gift of life.  As a result, it is the most basic and purist experience that reflects back upon our very beginning of existence.  Through it, we can honor and expand its meaning and presence in our lives.  It’s quite a powerful little tool we carry in our psychological back pocket. 

Depression - When individuals are depressed, they are focused inward on themselves.  They can become lost focusing internally on themselves.  Sometimes, we aren’t able to see alternative solutions because we have limited ourselves to running over and over an internal and unchanging landscape that offers no way out.  There is nothing in there to offer a different perspective.  It becomes self-reinforcing and we spiral further and further into our sense of despair and loneliness. 

Giving to another, then, becomes an effective and powerful way of bringing ourselves out of depression’s grasp.  In depression, we are fooled into thinking that we are alone.  The simple act of giving breaks us out of that framework and challenges the misguided perception that we are alone.  In the very act of giving, we are challenged to acknowledge that we are not alone.  That in and of itself gets us out of the way we had been thinking.  We start looking outside of ourselves.  Giving challenges us to acknowledge we are not alone.  That realization becomes the first step in the recovery and healing of depression.

Simply volunteering somewhere will allow you to tap into the power of giving.  And as you do, do not neglect your very important role as the receiver.  This kind of healing requires both giving and receiving.  Allow yourself to accept and fully enjoy the good feelings that come from giving and receiving.  For, if one only gives without receiving, it can be a way of feeling control over another or a way of defending the self from the good feelings that are generated from the other’s act of giving.

Sacrifice - It is the ultimate form of giving.  It literally means to make sacred.  That for which we sacrifice is made sacred.  Sacrifice, through out time, has been our way of interaction with the spiritual.  

The sacrifice of a mother for a child is the highest and most revered form of giving in our existence.  It touches the divine.  In the moment of that giving, you can ask any mother who has done so, the gift they receive in the moment of their sacrifice is an overwhelming sense of purpose in their life.  Within the suffering of their sacrifice, there is contained an indescribable joy and a moment where they experience and understand the depth and power of the love that they carry within themselves.   

Giving and receiving are inextricably joined together.  So by giving, we feel a greater connection to our world and in the process, it gives us the opportunity to find greater meaning in life.

There is quite a bit of research on the connection between giving and health.  People who have pets have been shown to live longer and live healthier lives than those who live alone.  Owning a pet requires us to be a caregiver of another life form.  As a caregiver, we are willingly taking on the role of giving.  People can say that the pet is giving to the owner as well.  That is absolutely true.  The pet owner is dynamically engaged in the dance of giving and receiving.  They are engaged in the dance of life.
Some people have a difficult time receiving because they have unconsciously tied reciprocation expectations onto the gift.  There may be fear around feeling an obligation to return the gift and fears of their own inadequacy at doing so begin to surface. 

We are taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but it clearly does not say that receiving is not a blessed act as well.  In order for the giver to have the experience of giving, there must be a receiver who allows them to experience the act of giving.  To turn down a compliment, gift, etcetera, it actually prevents the giver from experiencing the intrinsic rewards of giving.  The unrequited giver hears in the subtext of the gift-refusal that their offering is unworthy. 

When we turn down a compliment, we are subtly telling the giver that they are wrong.  That kind of experience leaves both parties with a rather empty and unfulfilling experience. 

If you find that you have a difficult time receiving, and are willing to change and grow beyond that limiting belief, you can try the following simple exercise:

Every single day somebody will offer to you a simple act of kindness.  We are so conditioned to not receive that we often do not acknowledge or even recognize those moments when we are the recipient of a gift.  With this awareness, begin your day with a quest to find that simple moment that appears in you life.  It may be as simple as someone letting you into traffic or as large as being told how beautiful you look today. 

In either case, the first thing you can do is to recognize that a gift is being held out to you then tell yourself that you recognize it.  As you practice, you will begin to notice more and more of those moments of gift offerings in your life that you have been missing. 

If you don’t know what to say in that moment, simply say, “thank you” and do the best you can to tolerate the anxiety that might arise in you.  You do not need to say anything else, nor do you need to "match" their offering with an obligated return gift.  Giving is always done freely.  If it isn’t given freely, and you feel obligated to return it in kind, it becomes a sale and the sacredness of the moment is lost forever.

Dr. James E. Walton, respected Marriage & Family Therapist, TV & radio host, and author, has won multiple international awards for his fast selling album series including Best Album of the Year in self-help from the 2009 JPF Independent Music Awards, the largest independent music award organization in the world.  With hundreds of thousands of tracks sold, he is a leader in the field of self-help. For more information on Dr. Jim's self-help audios with free samples, log onto  For videos and more information on Dr. Jim, and to obtain free audio affirmations, log onto his website at

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Long-term vs. Short-term Memory - How to Maximize Both

           Short-term memory stores information temporarily in the mind.  Long-term memory stores information permanently in the mind.  Both properties are essential for high functioning in our society.
            Short-term memory retains information in terms of chunks, or items.  It is estimated that our capacity for short-term memory is for seven chunks, plus or minus two.  To increase the number of chunks in our short term memory takes serious effort. Anxiety and lack of sleep can actually interfere with short term memory.
            Long-term memory, however, has an unlimited capacity for information.  Information remains in short term memory only as long as we continue to think about it, information placed in long-term memory remains there permanently.  Once we have dedicated five to ten seconds of serious concentration to memorizing an item, it will remain in the long-term memory. 
            In order to retain this information in the long-term memory, we must be able to relate the information to information we already know. This is known as coding information.  Short-term memory does not have any coding processes.  Therefore, information is easily and quickly forgotten from the short-term memory.
            In our long-term memory, we are able to learn new information without forgetting old information.  In contrast, the short-term memory holds information only as long as a person is able to pay attention to it.  In both processes, however, we are able to experience an apparent loss of information.  In short-term memory, the loss of information may occur from either new incoming information or from decay due to not attending the old information.  In short-term memory, we are only able to retain a very small amount of information at any given time, so information can be lost quickly due to interference.  This differs from loss of information in long-term memory.
            Loss of information in the long-term memory is more due to a retrieval failure rather than an actual loss of the information.  When information is not coded in a way that is conveniently accessible, it appears to be forgotten by the long-term memory.  However, if the person were able to give himself the correct cues for retrieving the information, he would most likely be able to. 
            Both Long and Short term memory are involved in the Serial Position Effect.  This effect means that items given at the beginning and end of the list are better remembered than items given in the middle of the list.  Long-term memory is utilized at the beginning of the list because the information is given so much attention it is placed there.  Short-term memory is utilized at the end of the list because it is the last item and is temporarily held there until it is interfered with or removed form our focus.  Thus, information learned at the end of the list will be forgotten within a short period of time, however, the information learned at the beginning of the list will be retained because it has been committed to the long-term memory. 
            Both long-term and short-term memories are based in biological systems.  They are, however, theorized to be located in different areas of the brain.  It appears that long-term memory may be stored as concepts throughout the entire brain.  Opposed to short-term memory, which seems to be located in the hippocampus area of the brain.  When the hippocampus is removed from both sides of the brain, a person retains his long-term memory, however loses his short-term memory.   Therefore, there appears to be separate areas of the brain that control short and long term memories.
            Both long-term and short term memories work together through what is called the Duplex Theory.  Long-term memory can actually assist short-term memory through the use of mnemonics.  Mnemonics are retrieval and storage plans for dealing with information.  Information recalled from the long-term memory can be used to assist the short-term memory through mnemonics.  Mnemonics allow larger chunks of information to be formed though associations. 
            Once a mnemonic has been use for the retention of information, it can be called up and used by the short-term memory for creating a larger chunk of information.  The short-term memory can only hold approximately seven chunks of information.  However, if the long-term memory used a mnemonic device for memorizing the information, this information is brought into the short-term memory in larger chunks that allow more information to be held in the short-term memory at that time.  Thus, short-term memory can be expanded by drawing upon previously learned material stored in long term memory.  This affects a person's ability to chunk, and allows them to store information in larger chunks and therefore expands their working memory.  Relaxation and meditation exercises can be very helpful for improving both short and long-term memory.
            The long and short-term memories work together and separately to maximize the capacity of our learning processes.  They each have different tasks that they perform in our memory functions.  Both are essential for our success at functioning independently in this world.              

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Introduction to Dr. Jim and Feeding Your Relationship


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Friday, June 4, 2010

Death As A Way of Knowing Life

         For centuries, scientific linear thinking has been dominating our way of understanding the world.  Linear ways of knowing life implies a beginning and an end.  This process has led us away from understanding holistic harmony with the earth into an area where life is understood only through isolating its parts.  Linear ways of knowing life implies a beginning and an end.  Thus, if life is going to have an end, we do not hold ourselves accountable for it and feel no need to understand ourselves on a deeper level since it will end anyway.  
            To understand what I’m saying more clearly, consider an elephant.  Linear thinking requires that we kill the elephant and study its individual parts by removing them from the body such as its heart, lungs, etc.  In that process, we have removed the elephant from its interaction with the environment in an effort to understand the elephant without the extraneous contaminating influences that surround it.  However, a holistic way of understanding the elephant would be to observe it in its environment and consider the environment as an essential component of what it means to be an elephant.  
            We are now challenged to take accountability for our actions and reawaken through holistic ways of knowing to understand our harmony with life.  Our linear ideas of understanding our world are being challenged through our encounter with death.  For linear thinking, death is the unquestionable end.  In holistic thinking, death leads us back to the beginning; it is part of the environment that is an essential component of what it means to be alive.  Through understanding death, we are brought into a search for greater meaning in our lives while being directed to reconnect with the world around us. 
            That we are born implies that we will die.  However, the knowledge of our own demise is a subject we choose to avoid in our current thinking.  Such thoughts only raise our level of anxiety since death is perceived as the end. 
            As children, we generally have no knowledge of death before the age of three.  By the age of nine, almost all children realize the inevitability of death.  How a child relates to and handles the subject of death has much to do with the influence the parents and society have exerted about the topic.  However, the fear of death seems to be a universal one. 
            Death brings with it a sense of powerlessness that can be terrifying to the average person.  It is a fear that is only made worse by our current linear thinking about death.  Linear thinking distances us from what we want to know in order to understand it.  This form of thinking removes that which we want to know, death, from its natural context of daily life.  By doing so, our scientific thinking has actually removed death from our daily lives, thus removing the familiarity and understanding that comes from such intimate contact with it. 
            Scientific thinking is linear.  It affords no hope of rebirth from death.  To that way of thinking, death is the end.  Such ways of knowing death can strike terror into the heart of the average person.  It is therefore not understood as a circular part of life as holistic ways of thinking would have it, but it is removed from life and becomes a stranger to our existence.  It is a stranger that we fear.  Since we do not have control over this stranger, we decide to remove it from our sight completely.
            In the 15th century, linear perspective was developed and vision became the primary way of knowing.  That tradition of linear perspective continues today.  We choose to deny death by removing it from our line of vision.  We do so by removing the elderly and placing them in nursing homes and placing the terminally ill in hospices.  We even remove the process of dying from our vocabulary.  Many people cannot even say the word cancer when referring to a dying acquaintance, or if they do, the words are mentioned in a hushed voice.  The action of whispering implies the removal of the dying from our lives and consciousness.  We do not want to know death when using scientific thinking as our way of knowing, because it means the end.
            Nursing homes are frequently established in areas zoned for business away from the daily life of neighborhoods.  Therefore, they are removed from our daily lives.  Hospices, however, are designed to be established in residential neighborhoods affording the terminally ill the sense of belonging in a community. 
            Both cancer and AIDS hospices have extreme difficulty opening in neighborhoods.  The neighbors are highly resistant to these facilities being place near their homes.  Their resistance does not come from any trouble these facilities have been known to cause, or because they are capable of spreading a disease in their neighborhood, but because these facilities are a reminder of death.  Hospices are places were people go to die.  They represent the helplessness we have over death.  Thus, the neighbors fight, because they do not want to know death.  They wish to remain innocent of its existence.  All forms of knowing set up a tension between the call to know and the desire to not know.
            However, we cannot hide from death.  We have consciousness, and with consciousness, comes awareness of our own demise.  Knowledge of our death, has forced us to leave the paradise of ignorance.  To gain knowledge we must leave the paradise of innocence.  To leave this innocence for knowledge we are cursed and wounded.  The wound is the awareness of our own demise.  We are then cursed to carry that knowledge with us the rest of our lives.
            Our scientific ways of viewing death have cut us off from our intimate understanding and awareness of death.  It is no longer a part of our lives; we have removed it from nature.  It is isolated and relegated to the world of hospitals and doctors.  It is relegated to the world of science.  Death is treated as separate from life and thus it is removed from our lives.  We have lost our holistic connections with death through scientific thinking. 
            Today, in the 21st century, we are being confronted with our own mortality on a massive scale through natural disasters, disease on a massive scale, war and environmental destruction.  People who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer are directly confronted with the knowledge their own mortality. The diagnosis of cancer is on the rise.  In fact, a recent study states that by 2030 the number of cancer deaths that year will be double what they are today.  The diagnosis of cancer is on the rise.  Those of us who are aware of someone with cancer are confronted with our own mortality.   
            It is impossible to not be aware of cancer if one is connected to society.  Cancer is mentioned on a daily basis on the television, radio, newspapers and magazines.  To be connected to society today, one is connected to cancer and death.  Knowledge of death is being forced into our lives on a massive scale.
            People with AIDS more than any other disease are shunned from society.  Stories of firebombing homes and pulling children out of school where a child with AIDS attends are commonplace.  These people are unwelcome living reminders that we live with death.  Rationally, people know that AIDS is not spread casually.  Our logical minds tell us that we are in no danger from those people.  People just do not want to know death and they are willing to go to extremes to avoid being confronted with their own mortality.  
            Holistically speaking, death on a massive scale is brought into our living rooms every night through war, terror and disease and it confronts us with the cycle of life.  It becomes a step in our growth.  Death then becomes a part of the cycle of life and rebirth. 
            Modern man does not want to know about himself.  Such knowledge would only lead him deeper into self-awareness and feelings that would lead him out of the paradise of ignorance into the curse and wound of knowledge.  Man has become lazy as far as understanding himself and looking deeper into his meaning.  Terrorism and war have become a way for consciousness to dramatize the fact by striking those considered with the most life, civilians and soldiers in the prime of life, with sudden death.  This, in turn, causes the rest of us to search deeper for the meaning in life. 
            The death of the elderly is easy to over look.  We expect the elderly to eventually die, and we can remain numb to the fact through our own youth by not being able to identify with them.  However, war and terrorism strikes down mainly the young and the healthy.  Death has now moved from the unidentifiable realm of the elderly and has entered into the world of youth.  Youth is the section of our society that we most wish to identify with.  Now, to identify with youth, we are confronted with death.  In many ways, our view of youth is superficial. We mostly focus on outward youthful appearances.  Our having to confront death in the face of youth leads us deeper into Self and away from superficiality.
            Constant war, terrorism and environmental destruction have become symptoms of the world losing contact with its soul.  Our linear thinking has pulled us far away from our connection with the earth by separating us away from that which we want to know. 
            We have lost the holistic way of knowing our subjects through intimacy and love.  We have "tortured Nature for her secrets" and removed all sense of soul from our discoveries.  Humankind has become more self-centered and less community oriented over the past few centuries. 
Individuality involves the capacity to experience the physical, as well as, emotional differences from others.  To experience individuation, one must be left in the original context of his environment, as individuation implies the preexistence of a relationship from which one is to individuate.  Scientific thinking does not have the capacity to acknowledge differentiation in terms of relationships, since scientific knowledge is derived by separating the subject from its environment.  Therefore, as scientific ways of knowing are dominant in this culture, the differentiation of individuals is not an encouraged way of being. 
            Scientific thinking has led to our alienation from one another through distancing.  This form of knowledge does not allow for emotions to assist in our understanding.  In scientific thinking emotions are moved outside of one's self. Holistically, death is a process that leads to the withdraw of our interaction and towards our individuation due to the change in our environment.  Thus, death becomes a way to force those left behind to individuate.  It forces us to experience our individuation and confront our anonymity.
            The disfigurement of the body by diseases such as cancer can correspond to the disfigurement we are wrecking upon the earth.  The earth, like the body of a cancer victim, is dying from wounds, toxins and neglect. 
            The soul of the earth, like that of man, is calling out for more connection.  The affliction of cancer, terrorism, constant war and wide spread disease are causing some people to get in touch with their compassion and love for others and for the Earth.  True acts of compassion for those suffering from disease and disaster are taking place.  Disease and disaster are helping us to reconnect with the compassionate and loving parts of ourselves that we have long neglected. 
            A person with a terminal illness realizes that his or her time is short and so often will drop the pretenses and superficial values of the world for more honest and intimate quality time with those they love.  In doing so, they reintroduce us to the value of intimate relationships and drop the walls of anonymity that keep distance between people. 
            It has been found that those people who eat more whole foods and take more rest and move with the rhythm of life with a more accepting attitude while letting go of anger live healthier longer.  From a holistic perspective, they have become messengers of the collective unconscious directing us to simplify our lives and reconnect with the earth. 
            The afflictions of constant war, environmental disaster, terrorism and cancer have brought the awareness of death into the hub of modern society and away from the isolation of the elderly.  It has become a symptom of suffering by the soul of the world.  It is a sign to draw our attention away from the superficialities of life and to look deeper into the interconnectedness of the world.  It  is drawing us away from linear scientific thinking and its separation from nature to a more holistic way of knowing which embraces life and moves in harmony with it.   It embraces life and all that goes with it.  To live with harmony and respect for all life and its forms while remaining open to feeling and hearing the voice of the world is to live holistically with all life.  That seems to be our greatest challenge and lesson of life today in knowing our world through holistic understanding and preserving our future.

Dr. Walton's latest album, Healing from Grief and Finding Peace in Your Life, was just released. Check it out on iTunes,, and CDbaby for free samples. For more information on Dr. James E. Walton you may log onto his website at There you will find free affirmation downloads, videos, self-help CDs and helpful topical pages for you to explore.