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Can Trauma and Happiness Coexist?

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Trauma

Is it possible to feel joy in the face of adversity?

Strength during the lowest of lows?

Creativity in the midst of destruction?

Peace in difficulty?

Vibrancy during cancer?

Happiness during COVID-19?

In the video below, I share some personal examples from my own upbringing on how my parents found strength and contentment during even the darkest of times.

Your Thoughts:

Can trauma and happiness coexist?

I’d love to hear your ideas, theories, and personal stories.

Video of Post → Click Here

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Situational versus Clinical Anxiety

Mental Health Matters Interview

Situational Anxiety

Dr. Katherin Garland

Host of Mental Health Matters

This week, I speak with one of my dearest blogging friends, Dr. D!

We discuss all things anxiety. She explains the difference between anxiety disorder and situational anxiety.

Dr. Dinardo provides 3 strategies to help us cope with situational anxiety, especially because it may be heightened during the pandemic and times of racial unrest.

1. Video Format of Interview

Watch on YouTube.

2. Podcast Format of Interview

Available on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.

Reflection Questions

  1. What did you learn about situational versus clinical anxiety from our interview?
  2. Can you relate to the personal example of heightened situational anxiety shared by Dr. Garland? How so?
  3. Have you experienced increased situational anxiety since COVID-19? In what areas of your life?
  4. What techniques help you cope with unexpected stressors and challenges?
  5. Do you see failure as a positive or a negative? Why?
  6. How does fear, trepidation, and worry manifest physically in your body?
  7. What would you tell your younger self about stress and anxiety?
Watch Anxiety Video: Click Here 

IS THIS NORMAL? Differential Diagnosis 101

The most common question people ask when they discover I’m a psychologist is – “Is This Normal?

This question is a significant motivator for creating this psychology blog in the first place.

Because too often people suffer because of lack of understanding versus a diagnosable medical condition.

differential diagnosis  ·  the process of differentiating between two or more conditions which share similar signs or symptoms.

Case Study

Two people present with similar symptoms (e.g., rapid heart beat, excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating) with vastly different causes.

On closer inspection

One person’s symptoms is caused by lack of sleep, excessive caffeine consumption, and a recent breakup.

While the other person’s symptoms is caused by a mental illness, as diagnosed by a registered psychologist, using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

One improves with time and lifestyle changes, while the other requires more intensive psychological intervention.

Education Empowers Everyone

This is why it’s my life mission to share psychology everywhere, all the time.

In the classroom. During podcasts. On YouTubeRadioTelevision. Psychology articles, textbooks and blog posts. On the TEDx stage.  Instagram . In between sets at F45 workouts.. and at the local coffee shop.

Psychology is my favourite subject after all.

Psychology Goals

To make DAILY mental health education accessible, sustainable, and easily APPLICABLE.

To eradicate misconceptions about normal versus abnormal functioning.

To help students develop positive coping techniques in fun, interactive, and uplifting ways.

To reduce stigma about mental illness.

To encourage people to seek professional help and guidance for mental health queries.

Instead of simply asking a friend’s opinion on a topic of utmost importance.

Video:

Therapy versus Talking to Friends: What’s the difference?

Especially when it comes to transitory states, emotions, and situations.

Stress versus panic disorder.

Sadness versus clinical depression.

Neatness versus obsessive compulsive disorder.

The topic of this week’s psychology video:

Video:

What’s Normal? What’s Not?

Temporary Emotions versus Mental Illness

For example, distressing emotions often improve with rest, perspective, and time.

While mental illness requires more ongoing medical support and therapy to see improved functioning.

My hope is that mental health education becomes paramount in both the classroom and the doctor’s office.

An ongoing conversation about what’s healthy versus what’s not.

So that people don’t automatically assume they’re mentally ill simply because they’re having a bad day.

More Resources Coming Soon!

Mental Health Matters

Host Dr. Kathy Garland

SITUATIONAL ANXIETY with Dr. Dinardo

Live Interview

Airing July 31, 2020!

Stay Tuned for Dr. Garland’s Video & Podcast!

Anger is a sign that something needs to change.

Anger Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com

One of the most common requests from my psychology coaching clients is to help them find healthier ways of expressing their emotions.

For Example: Anger

That said, it’s not as simple as becoming “more calm” or “less explosive”.

The first step in transformation and lasting change is assessment.

The Kübler-Ross Model provides insight:

5 Stages of Grief and Change

BELOW THE SURFACE EXPLORATION

The intention is to discover if angry thoughts, actions, or emotions are serving a purpose.

Is anger helping or hurting?

How is anger serving you

Why Anger?

Perhaps anger allows someone to speak up, say no, set a boundary, or bond with friends.

And if this is the case, the goal of psychology coaching is to help clients replace confrontations (for example) with more effective communication patterns.

PSYCHOLOGY HOMEWORK

Anger → Awareness

First: Set aside time to journal thoughts and emotions about “hot topics”. This allows for a cooling off period and a chance for self reflection and integration.

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Second: Plan a mutually beneficial time to discuss anger triggers and solutions with friends and family.

This 2-step communication technique results in safe, open, and engaging conversations that move both relationships and actions forward. Win Win!

Reflection Questions

  1. What Purpose Does Anger Serve in Your Life? Gains versus Losses?
  2. Does It Strengthen or Deplete You?
  3. Does Anger Move You Further Away from Your Dreams or Closer to Your Dreams?
  4. What In Your Life Needs To Change?
  5. Do You Need More Effective Ways of Coping with Frustration and/or Loss?

Once you understand the underlying purpose anger serves in your life, you’re ready for the next stage in the change process:

Transition and Transformation

Change Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com.

Psychology Resources

  1. New Conceptualizations of Anger: https://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/advances
  2. How Anger Affects the Body: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/the-mind-body-connection/202007/what-causes-anger-and-how-it-affects-the-body
  3. Healthy Anger Release Techniques: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-release-anger
  4. Assessing Motivation To Change: https://drandreadinardo.com/2018/08/18/why-change-now
Video of Blog Post: Click Here

Your Dreams Have A Message For You

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One of the first things I do every morning is analyze my dreams.

What about you?

Do you remember your dreams?

Do you interpret their meaning?

Have you ever dreamt the same dream repeatedly?

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In the video below I share the dream I had last night.

Dream Symbol: Water

A “dream theme” I have at least twice a week.

Dream Discussion Forum

If you’re curious about the psychology of dreams, leave a dream in the comments and I will interpret it for you.

Sweet Dreams! Dr. D 🛌 💭

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Learn More

  1. Online Dream Symbol Dictionary: What Do Your Dreams Mean?
  2. Active Imagination“:  Jungian Recall Strategy
  3. Brain Processes that Allow You to Remember Dreams: Scientific American
  4. Mind Mapping Your Dreams:  Spatial and Visual Dream Exercise
  5. A to Z of Dream Interpretation: What Dreams Reveal About Our Lives, Loves, and Deepest Fears. (The Dream Book Pictured Above)
Watch Video of Post: Click Here

The Stars and The Scars

Leonard Cohen Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com

I see your light.

And your darkness.

And all your shades of grey.

That’s what makes you complete.

All the parts of you.

Integrating.

Changing. Transforming.

Simply being.

Accepting.

This moment. Yourself.

Whatever the day may bring.

Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen


Story behind the blog post

Yesterday someone asked me what my philosophy of psychology was. And the one word that kept coming to me over and over again was: Integration.

All the parts of ourselves. The scars and the stars. Just like coal and diamonds. Same element (carbon). Different manifestation.

Wholeness is the goal. Perfection is overrated.

Carl Jung Integration Wholeness DrAndreaDinardo.com

Helpful Psychology Resources

  1. Blog Post: The Shadow Effect
  2. Video Post: Healing Your Inner Critic
  3. Book: Bringing Your Shadow Out of the Dark
  4. Research: Self-Compassion Research Summarized
  5. Theory: Carl Jung’s Individuation and Wholeness Process

Compassionate Listening

Even as a psychologist, I often don’t know what to say.

Especially now with so many people experiencing pain and trauma in escalating ways.

So rather than assume what someone needs, I have learned over the years to ask one simple question:

How Can I Support You?

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Empathic Listen

In doing so, I create a safe space for healing and acceptance.

Something we all need right now, more than ever before.

Unconditional love and support.

To be witnessed. To be heard.

All good conversation begins with listening.

Only then can we transformed by what we learn. 🌎💞

Video of Post ⇒ Click Here

The Space Between No Longer and Not Yet

Honour the Space

The time in between is a difficult time for all of us.

Myself included.

A super organized (type A) person like me becomes a little unhinged in the space in between.

But don’t we all?

In Between

Wondering if we still have what it takes.

Hoping we can still make a difference in the world when the pandemic ends.

Which is why I wrote this post today.

Highlighting the shared challenge we all face between the old and the new.

Change is a lifelong process.

Let yourself feel what you need to feel.

Take a breath. Enjoy some rest.

Give your monkey mind a break.

In Between Quotes

It’s ok to not be ok.

What comes also goes.

Honour the space in between.

Related Post: Divine Timing

Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

Why are we so hard on ourselves DrAndreaDinardo.com

WHY ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES?

Great question!

One that I’m asked often. And one that I often ask myself.

PSYCHOLOGY INSIGHTS

What causes this behaviour?

The answer is multifaceted and includes several factors including how we were parented (when internalized superego and conscience first develops) and eventually how we parent ourselves.

For example:

When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

1. Self Criticism versus Self Compassion

2. Self Control versus Self Love and Understanding 

PSYCHOLOGY SOLUTIONS

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How do I make the shift from self criticism to self compassion?

1. Pay attention to where your self judgements originated.

Is this your personal measure of worthiness or society’s expectation of success?

2. Investigate how truly arbitrary the standards you set for yourself are.

For example, who said you had to weigh 125 lbs, have a million dollars in the bank, and be married by 30?

3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

  • Watch this short video for additional insights into the developmental origins of toxic self criticism, unrealistic standards, and the SUPERego.

“Be kinder to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.”

Stay Open to the Possibilities

Embrace Uncertainty

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One of my favourite ways to energize before teaching psychology classes at St. Clair College is to summarize a theory in practical and concrete ways in the parking lot.

Literally! 🚘 

filmed this video 5 minutes before I was about to teach a lecture on personality and positive psychology in my liberal arts class.

Just a few weeks before all St. Clair College classes went fully online due to COVID-19.

In the video above, I talk about the connection between openness and happiness. Openness to experience is one of the Big 5 Personality traits – see figure below.

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Why Openness?

The more open, adventurous, and flexible we are in our thinking (and being), the more likely we are to perceive ambiguity as a pathway to something new and exciting.

A whole new road, yet to be discovered.

openness

Today’s Psychology Lesson

We never know what’s waiting on the other side of COVID uncertainty.

So let’s stay open to the possibilities. 

Trust and believe in our shared journey. 

Even if we can’t see the outcome. 

Together in faith, anything is possible!

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Video of Post ⇒ Click Here