Can You Be Mindful And Still Feel Angry?


Mindfulness is a powerful technique for helping individuals develop a healthier relationship with their emotions.  Unfortunately, many individuals have fallen under the misunderstanding that practicing mindfulness means they will be completely at peace at all times. Then, when this doesn’t occur, they become more upset or believe that mindfulness doesn’t work.

To combat this, we must first understand what mindfulness really is. Mindfulness is, essentially,  the ability to experience your emotions fully without feeling controlled by those emotions. Mindfulness allows you to observe your emotions without “feeling like those emotions are so unbearable that you have to engage in dysregulated behavior (substance use, overeating, self-injury, etc) to ‘turn them off.’”

In other words, mindfulness does not cause us to “stop feeling” and always be in a state of peace. If this were the case, mindfulness would in some ways be detrimental since emotions are there to help us function. For example, “Anger helps us stand up for ourselves and motivates us to fight against injustice.” Instead, mindfulness, particularly when practice with a mental-health professional, “can help anger and other emotions feel more tolerable and easier to manage so you are less likely to feel controlled by your emotions.”

For more information on how to experience your emotions through mindfulness check out Calming The Emotional Storm 

3 Ways To Unleash the Spiritual Power of Your Marriage




What’s the point of marriage?  Do we even need it anymore?  If so, what for?

If you ask a dozen people these questions, you may get a dozen answers, but the Catholic answers to these questions reveals a depth and spiritual power to marriage that many people don’t fully appreciate.  Simply put, Catholics believe that when a Christian couple gets married they are promising to be each other’s best hope for becoming everything God created them to be in this life and getting each other to heaven in the next.  When you say, “I do,” in Church you are not just saying that you have warm-fuzzy feeling for someone and like hanging out with them.  You are agreeing to play an essential and active role in God’s plan of salvation for your spouse, second only to the saving power of Jesus Christ. The following ­­­3 tips from For Better…FOREVER! (2nd ed. Revised and expanded) can help you begin to unleash the spiritual power of your marriage.

1.Be Apprentices

Christians are called to spend their lives learning how to love as God loves.  For Catholics, marriage is an apprenticeship in loving another person in the free, total, faithful, and fruitful way God loves us.  When a couple gets married in the Church, they willingly surrender their right to love each other as they might naturally prefer.  Instead they say, “I want to love this person with the love that is in God’s heart. I don’t know how to do that on my own, so I promise to spend the rest of my life learning.” Getting married in the Church is meant to communicate that you believe that there is something unique and truly beautiful about the Catholic vision of love and that you promise to spend your life apprenticing and living out that vision of love in your home, both so that you can fulfill the deepest longing of your heart for a love that doesn’t fail and so that you can be a physical sign to the world of the kind of passionate, faithful, intimate love that God has for the world. Unleashing the spiritual potential of your marriage begins by  recognizing that you are on a lifelong apprenticeship in the art of godly loving and by making an ongoing commitment to developing parts the parts of yourself that would enable you to be a more communicative, more intimate, more passionate, more generous mate.

2. Pray Together

Recent studies suggest that only about 17% of Catholic couples pray together, but we can’t be true apprentices to the art of godly love if we don’t make a point of sitting at the feet of the Master and asking him to teach us how.  Every day, sit with your spouse and ask God to give you the courage to be the husband or wife he wants you to be, the husband or wife your spouse needs you to be.  Pray for the courage to grow, stretch and change in any godly way this loving effort requires of you.

Don’t worry. It’s not all work. Research by Baylor University shows that couples to pray together are up to  30% happier than those who don’t.


3. Invite God Into Your Bedroom

Too many people think that God and sex don’t mix, but research consistently shows that couples who are able to connect with the spiritual dimensions of their sexual relationships have deeper, more passionate, and more frequent sexual relations.  That’s because these couples don’t see sex as a nice thing to do at the end of the day if you have time or energy.  They see it as a way of communicating their love for each other in a language that goes beyond words.  A language that says, “See how well we work for each other’s good all day long! Even our bodies have learned to work for each other’s good!”

To this end, the Church’s teaching on Natural Family Planning isn’t just about having an ethical way to space children. It is a blueprint for creating a physical relationship that is rooted in communication, prayer, and generosity. True, NFP isn’t always easy, and if you only see NFP as a technique for avoiding pregnancy, you will probably find it more frustrating than not.  But if you embrace NFP as an invitation to deeper communication, prayer, and generosity, you will discover how to walk the sacred path allows sex to become (as Pope Benedict put it) “an ascent in ecstasy toward the divine.”

Marriage isn’t just a guaranteed date for bowling night.  It communicates real spiritual power that enables everyday Christians to become something remarkable; living, breathing, signs of God’s own loving heart.

Dr. Greg Popcak is the author many books including, For Better…Forever! The Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage  and Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.  He is the host of More2Life Radio airing weekdays at 10am E on SiriusXM130.  Learn more at

Here’s Why Abortion Remains THE Fundamental (and Non-Negotiable) Social Justice Issue of Our Time



It has become popular, as of late, to assert that abortion is just one of many important social-justice issues.  Many people correctly note that a host of other issues–from education, to immigration, to healthcare–are also extraordinarily important pro-life issues. Pope Francis, himself, has noted “all values are non-negotiable.”  And of course, he’s absolutely right. All truths are true–absolutely.  All needs are needs. All values are undeniably valuable. But if this is the case, does this mean that it is somehow wrong to assert that the right to life remains the single most important social justice issue of our day, instead of merely one “pro-life” issue among many in the seamless garment?  No.  Of course not.  Here’s why.

Building Blocks

While all truths are absolutely, non-negotiably true, some truths are more foundational, in the sense that we need to accept those truths before we can begin to wrap our heads around more complicated truths.  For instance; the belief that “there is a God: is more foundational than the fact that “God is Father and  has a son who is Jesus, the Christ.”  Both of these truths are non-negotiably true, the belief in the existence of God is necessary before you can believe that this God had a son named Jesus.  Claiming the latter without accepting the former is just absurd.  That Jesus is God’s son is not somehow “less true” than the existence of God, but believing in the existence of God is a more foundational truth.

This concept is called the “hierarchy of truths.”  And though many people take that phrase to mean that some truths are more true than others, that is not at all the case.  It just means that some truths require understanding of more foundational concepts in order to “get” them.  This principle applies to Catholic Social Teaching (CST) as well.  So, what does this have to do with the question of where fighting for the unborn baby’s right to life fits in the grand scheme of social justice advocacy?

Life: The Fundamental Truth

I teach several college courses on Catholic Social Teaching.  I begin each of those classes by proposing a simple question to my students.

Question: What is the easiest way to solve any social problem?

I let students struggle with the answer for a bit, but in all my years of teaching this course, no one has ever hit on the diabolical–and all to common–answer.

Answer: Kill the people responsible for the problem.

As shocking as this answer is, it is, in fact, society’s go-to response to many social problems.  In fact, the less the individuals seen to be responsible for a particular social problem are able to speak up for themselves and the more the killing can be done relatively quietly,  the more likely it is a society will resort to this particular “final solution.”

For instance:

~Q: What should we do about violent crime?  A: Use the death penalty to kill the criminal.  Problem solved.

~Q: What should we do to solve soaring medical care costs?  A: Euthanize people who are either terminal or are at least willing to be killed “for the sake of mercy.” Problem solved.

~Q: Throughout the 20th century, when various societies faced serious economic crises what was the convenient solution they settled on?  A: They rounded up the people who were seen–rightly or wrongly–to be taking all the jobs or hoarding all the resources and killed them in a host of creatively evil and horrible ways.  Problem solved.

~Q: What can we do about the problem of unwanted pregnancy?  A: Kill the child in the womb who is responsible for so much grief.  Problem solved.

In each of these cases, death for the party seen to be “responsible” for the particular social ill is the easy answer because it is usually done quietly (so the rest of us don’t have to know about it) and the people being eliminated are in no position to make enough noise to do anything about it.   Killing the “responsible” party remains a tremendously popular, efficient, and economical way to solve virtually any social problem.  What’s not to love?

Furthermore, as long as killing the people who are responsible remains a socially acceptable and legal option, it is impossible to truly change hearts on the matter.  When push comes to shove, if people feel they have a serious enough reason, no matter what they may personally feel is wrong in their heart of hearts, if an option remains legal,  available, and easy, it will be the option that is most often chosen.  By and large, a suffering person will always choose what is easy over what feels moral unless there are appropriate supports for doing what is right and costs for doing what is wrong.  Don’t take my work for it. See Kohlberg’s work on moral development.  That is why overturning unjust laws that make it killing people an acceptable means of solving social problems is so important.

But, Why Abortion?

But if all of these issues violate the principle of the right to life, why is the plight of the unborn even more fundamental a truth than the criminal’s right to life, or the immigrant’s or any of the other pro-life issues I mentioned above, all of which are absolutely true, inviolable, and in their own way, non-negotiable?

To answer that, we turn to another principle of Catholic social teaching; the Universal Destination of Goods.  This is the idea that everything God has given to us is to be shared, in particular, with those in need.  Our ownership is not absolute.  God is the only absolute owner of every blessing he has entrusted to our care.  We are merely stewards.  If we are to be good stewards, we are responsible for sharing what God has given us with those in need.

And how do we distribute those blessings?   A corollary of the principle of the universal destination of goods is that those who have the greatest need and the least ability to advocate for themselves have the most legitimate claim on the available resources.  While the criminal, the poor, the immigrant, and the sick are all in need, and have a God-given, absolute right to have those needs attended to, no one has a greater claim to our time, energy, and effort than the unborn, who, in fact, have both the greatest needs and the least ability to advocate for themselves of any other underprivileged group.  They are the neediest in every imaginable manner of speaking.  Therefore, they have a right–according to CST–to be given priority. The fundamental option for the poor begins with championing those who have less than nothing and are largely thought by our society to have not even earned the right to breath their first breath.

Again, returning to the idea of the hierarchy of truths, it becomes obvious that accepting and advocating for the unborn’s right to life is foundational.  It is extraordinarily difficult to accept the violent criminal’s God-given right to life if we cannot accept that the innocent, unborn child has that right.  It is extraordinarily difficult–if possible at all–to accept that the poor and the immigrant have a right to a quality of life if they, and more foundationally, their unborn children, do not have a right to exist in the first place.  It is terrifically difficult to accept that the sick and infirm–those who can no longer contribute economically to society and, in fact, are thought to be a drain on our resources by many–have a right to life, if we cannot first accept that even a healthy unborn child has a right to life; not because of anything he or she has done, or even because he or is necessarily wanted, but because he or she is.  

All truths are true, all needs must be met, and yes, immigration, healthcare, education, housing, and all the rest are truly pro-life issues.  This is an undeniable fact of CST.  Nevertheless, overturning abortion remains the single most important, most non-negotiable, social justice problem of our day because it is the most foundational way to assert that everyone has at least a basic, God-given right to life and, by extension a right to some kind of quality of life.

Protecting the unborn, first and foremost, is the only way to assert that just because a person or groups needs are somehow inconvenient for the rest of society to deal with they it is not acceptable to kill them off so the rest of us don’t have to deal with them.  That is why Mother Theresa, who spent her life as the pre-eminent social justice warrior, used every opportunity she had to condemn abortion in no uncertain terms.  In fact, I would argue that it was social justice icon Dorothy Day’s own abortion that eventually drove her to be such an advocate for all the marginalized. She knew, in the most personal, intimate way anyone could, how important it was to stand for life.  A passionate commitment to the right to life is what makes authentic, wholistic, effective, and intellectually coherent social justice work possible.

The Seamless Garment.

None of this neglects the truth of the seamless garment principle. All social justice issues are inextricably linked to one another, and any person who seeks to be authentically pro-life cannot work to save the babies but turn a blind eye to the poor, the sick, the needy, the stranger, or even the criminal.  But while the rights of all of these groups covered by the seamless garment are non-negotiable and God-given, the right to life is foundational and necessary for understanding these other, dependent rights.   Even a thread that runs through a seamless garment has a beginning, and if the beginning of that thread is allowed to fray, the rest of the garment will come undone.  Any attempt to emphasize other rights or needs over the right to life is the equivalent of trying to sew patches on the seamless garment while it unravels from the loose thread dangling before us.  It ends up being a fool’s errand.

That is not to say that all other social justice issues are less important.  It is also not to say that everybody else has to wait in line to get their needs met until abortion is overturned. But it us to say that unless we are willing to prioritize the needs of the most needy and most vulnerable–namely, the unborn–any larger effort to work for a just and godly civilization of love is, ultimately, for not.

Can’t Believe the Trump Crowd-Kerfuffle? Here are 6 More “Alternative Truths” That Will Blow Your Mind!

Image via Shutterstock.

Image via Shutterstock.

It’s been interesting to watch the press’ reaction to the phrase “alternative truth” since, from my perspective, the secular media have been more than happy to accept any number of alternative truths progressives have been peddling for years.  These popular, progressive “alternative truths” include things such as…

  1.  Human life does not begin at conception.
  2.  Abortion is a good approach to healthcare for women.
  3. Hormonal Contraception is good medicine.
  4. Children raised in same-sex or cohabiting households do as well as children raised traditional married households.
  5. Divorce is not traumatic or harmful for adults or children,
  6. Children do not need both a mother and a father

Of course, there are many others like this.  If you click any of the above links, you will see strong evidence why these “alternative truths” –routinely accepted by the media– are either outright falsehoods or at least assertions that are far from settled.  None of these widely accepted, “alternative truths” are, in fact, objectively truthful. In fact, every one of these statements are at least as questionable as the Trump admin’s assertions about crowd size at the inauguration, if not more so, but the media has never had a problem accepting any of these ideas.  And yet because enough people have proclaimed these alternative truths long enough and loudly enough they are almost universally accepted.

Is pointing this out just a game of tit for tat? Or is there something deeper going on here?

Is What’s Good For the Liberal Goose Good for the Conservative Gander?

One of the most important rules in a post-modern, post-Christian society, is that “truth” is not objective.  It is what “we” (society) say it is. Perhaps one of the reasons the media seems so shocked about the Trump Admin’s co-option of this post-modern doctrine is that conservatives (even erstwhile conservatives like Trump) have traditionally rejected the idea that truth is a social construct (i.e., what “we” say it is) preferring instead to assert a more objective, Natural Law, approach to truth where matter matters, and truth represents the actual state of things. It is odd, to say the least, to see a putative conservative like Trump play the post-modern game of “believe what I say, not what you see.”

As a person who believes in objective truth, I don’t think any of this is a good thing, but rather than simply writing off Trump as a manipulative so-and-so, I think it is much more honest to see him as an authentically post-modern conservative; a person who, like the progressive Obama administration before him, really believes his own bullshit and thinks that truth is simply a tool to be used to serve a particular political or personal agenda.  For the post-modern mind–liberal or conservative–there really is no such thing as “lies” per se.  There are only statements that are useful and statements that are not useful.  Similarly, in the post-modern academy, research exists, not to discover truth, but merely to advance the agenda we’ve chosen to advocate (the technical term for this is “action research.”)

Progressives have been playing at this game for decades and have won the heart of the culture by doing so.  The public acceptance of gay marriage, the transgender debates, the normalization of divorce, and a host of other cultural mainstays are the fruit of this effort.  Conservatives have now co-opted this approach, not so much because they really believe in it, so much as because they are tired of losing.  The conservative version of the post-modern game of truth-as-means-to-end is clunky,  jarring, and somewhat less suave than the progressive version (because underneath it all, there is still the tacit belief in objective truth that has to be actively denied to be able to justify this game) but it is, epistemologically speaking, completely consistent with how the culture has been thinking about truth and thinking for at least the last decade or more.

The Cost of the Game

The problem is, that long term, this approach leads to the death of science AND faith.  The philosopher of science, Stanly Jaki, argued that the intellectual assumptions of Christianity such as “God is a God of order” and “By studying creation you can learn about the creator” made science itself possible because it insisted there was such a thing as reason and predictability.   He argued that despite occasional scientific eruptions in non-Christian cultures, scientific inquiry in those cultures was always “stillborn” (that is, died out after the particular scientist or innovator died) because, for instance, if you are pagan who believes that the earth and the wind and the waves are themselves gods who can do what they will, it would never occur to you to study what they were going to do tomorrow in the first place.  Who are you to question the movements of the gods?

But the Christian, because of the incarnation, in which God eternally and intimately unites himself to his creation,  is invited to learn about God by studying nature.  Christians believe in objective truth because we believe the natural always points to the eternal. Because God’s fingerprints are all over creation, you can learn something about the artist by study his strokes on the canvas and the composition of the paint he uses.  Not even Judaism, which believes that God is ultimately so other that you cannot even say his name, or Islam, which believes that Allah can do whatever he wishes and is not even bound by his own laws, can make these claims. Christianity is unique in its embrace of not just divine truth, but all objective truth.

It remains to be seen whether Christian conservatives can play the post-modern game without sawing off the branch they are sitting on. However it turns out, it promises to be an interesting ride.



Alternative Facts? 3 Ways to Solve Conflict When You Can’t Even Agree on What Happened



This past weekend saw  a lot of discussion about “alternative facts.” Whatever you think of the crowd-size kerfuffle between the Trump Admin and the press, the phrase, “alternative facts” points to a problem I often encounter in counseling; namely, how can you help two people solve a problem when they can’t even agree on what really happened?  Is the other person lying?  Are they stupid?  Exactly what is wrong with them anyway that they see things in such a radically different way than you do?

Interestingly, there is a huge body of research showing that people regularly perceive “alternative facts” when witnessing the same event. For instance, this article from Scientific American relates the very common problem with the unreliability of eye-witness testimony in court and how, even when people are not intending to commit perjury, witnesses can have very different and even contradicting memories of the very same experience.

So what can we do when we see things so differently from our spouse, kids, or co-workers that we can’t even agree on what happened, who started it,  who said what, and/or who did what to whom much less what to do about it?  Here are three tips Lisa and I discussed on More2Life Radio that can help you overcome the complications “alternative facts” can cause in your disputes with the people you care about.


  1.  Don’t Expect to Agree On History–It can be frustrating, even scary when you and someone you care about can’t even agree on what happened.  Be not afraid.  Even the closest friends, families,  and couples rarely agree on who said and did what.  Even in these times, you CAN both agree that you didn’t like the way things happened and you CAN come to an agreement on how to handle things differently the next time something like this comes up.  Don’t get caught up in arguments about history.  Listen to each other’s version of events respectfully, but then say, “Well, obviously we see things really differently and that’s ok, but what can we do to handle this better the next time it comes up?”  Focusing on solutions instead of history allows you to respect your differences while remaining hopeful that your future can be more agreeable than your past or present. 
  2.  Disagreeing isn’t Lying--Too often when parents and kids or even couples express different versions of the same events they can accuse each other of lying. Of course, if the other person regularly hides things from you, tells half-truths or makes things up, then seek professional help immediately, but if they are generally a truthful, transparent person and that’s why it is so upsetting that they seem to have such different views about what happened, don’t accuse them of lying.  It isn’t a lie to see things differently.  Again, as with our first tip, focus on what you can agree on, namely, the fact that neither of you like the way things played out and that both of you want to handle the situation better the next time.  Instead of putting the other person on trial and trying to prove that your version of events should be entered into the official permanent record, concentrate on establishing some ground rules and expectations to handle the next time better 
  3. Listen Emotionally MORE Than Factually--Even when you’re trying to identify solutions for the next time something like this happens, sometimes it can be really tempting to get hung up on the fact that the other person sees things SO radically differently.  It can be especially hard when they seem to be drawing unkind conclusions about you and your motivations.  Try not to get caught up in defending yourself from these unkind “alternative facts.”  Instead, listen to the emotions behind the accusations.  For instance, you can say, “I certainly didn’t mean to come off that way, and that was the furthest thing from my mind, but I understand that you felt X (attacked, hurt, disrespected, humiliated, etc.) and I’m really sorry that’s how it seemed.  What can I do NEXT TIME to make sure I don’t come off that way to you?”  By using this formula, you don’t have to agree with the other person’s perceptions, but you can still manage to be sensitive to them and do a better job of managing their perceptions in the future.

Pope St. John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body (TOB) reminds us that each person is unique and unrepeatable.  While that sounds great on paper, practically speaking, it means that we all see things very differently.  Yes, there is such a thing as objective truth, but it can be hard to get there sometimes because our different experiences and different perspectives cause us to emphasize different aspect of an experience to the point where two people can go through the same thing and describe almost two completely different events.  Despite this, TOB reminds us of the importance of working through or getting past those differences to create a “community of love” where, despite your differences you can still work for each others good and create connection.

If you’d like more information on how you can stop “alternative facts” from creating conflict on your relationships, check out When Divorce Is NOT An Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love.


New Study Shows Talk Therapy Can Change Brain Function of Schizophrenics



Talk therapy can be best understood as physical therapy for the brain.  Many previous studies have been shown to have a positive impact on the brain functioning of depressed and anxious patients, changing the way clients’ brains process, feel, and respond to stress.  Exciting new research shows that even patients who suffer from psychosis (e.g., intrusive auditory and visual hallucinations) and schizophrenia can experience significant improvements in brain function as the result of talk therapy.   But how?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a school of psychology that focuses on “reframing,” or changing the way an individual thinks about and responds to their thoughts and experiences as well as developing strategies to reduce stress and improve mental health and well-being.

A study conducted by King’s College London shows that CBT strengthens the “connections between key regions of the brain involved in processing social threat accurately.” Furthermore, this study revealed that the techniques of CBT show increased “connectivity between several brain regions — most importantly the amygdala (the brain’s threat centre) and the frontal lobes (which are involved in thinking and reasoning) — are associated with long-term recovery from psychosis.”

In other words, individuals who experience psychotic symptoms such as those common in schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorder, can benefit from CBT by “learning to think differently about unusual experiences, such as distressing beliefs that others are out to get them.”

“The findings, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, follow the same researchers’ previous work which showed that people with psychosis who received CBT displayed strengthened connections between key regions of the brain involved in processing social threat accurately.

The researchers of this and other studies explained that individual’s struggling with psychosis often turn immediately to medication for relief from their symptoms. However, the results of this study demonstrate that while CBT is effective during the time the individual is receiving counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also gives the individual the tools necessary to positively impact long-term recovery.

To discover how Cognitive-Behavior Therapy can help your brain deal with stress, depression, anxiety and other emotional problems more effectively, contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Tele-Counseling practice to make an appointment to speak with a counselor.

“I’m Just Mad About Saffron. And Saffron’s Mad About…Treating Depression.” New Study Says.

saffronI’m just mad about saffron and saffron’s mad about me.  –Mellow Yellow by Donovan

A new review of 6 randomized, controlled trials found that the spice, saffron, was as effective for treating depression as Prozac and Tofranil.  The sample sizes of the studies are small but the results are tremendously promising insofar as study participants using  saffron as an anti-depressant do not appear to suffer from the side effects that are common to pharmaceuticals, such as sleepiness, constipation and sexual problems.  According to Dr. Adrian Lopresti, the lead author of the study, “Saffron has had a number of really well designed, robust studies investigating its antidepressant properties and pretty much all the studies have been positive.”

Why does saffron work?  According to Lopresti, “What’s been found in the literature over the last ten years is that people with depression have high levels of inflammation and free radical damage associated with oxidative stress. That led to interesting work looking into antioxidants and anti-inflammatories as antidepressants”  It turns, saffron has both strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties which enables it to have a potentially powerful impact on the physiological symptoms of depression; the aches, the lethargy, the feelings of sluggishness.

According to the study, the effective dose appears to be 15mg twice daily and results are usually apparent wishing 6-8 weeks.  There needs to be much more research done with much larger sample sizes before we can say whether saffron could be a consistently effective treatment for depression but early results are very encouraging.


Liar, Liar: New Study Reveals 3 Types of Lies



New research points to three different ways we deceive others.

Most people are aware of first two categories of lies; deception and withholding.  Deception, involves intentionally giving false information, and withholding, involves intentionally failing to disclose information.  But have you ever heard about “paltering?”

Other than being a great SAT word, paltering involves misleading by telling the truth.  Often, a palterer uses truth in an overly-specific and legalistic way. For instance, imagine a philandering husband who had a one-night stand with a woman on a business trip saying to his wife, “I’m not in a relationship with anyone but you, darling.”  In his mind, he is telling the truth, because he had a one-and-done fling.  He didn’t have, and doesn’t want, a relationship.  Just sex.  Or, think of the presidential candidate who says, “I won’t raise taxes” because it is technically congress’ job to pass new taxes.  He might want new taxes.  He might even advocate for them.  But he won’t raise them, himself, because that would be outside of his authority as president.  Paltering, as you might imagine, is a particularly insidious form of lying.

A new study looked at how palterers and those who experience paltering view this attempt at what Stephen Colbert referred to as “truthiness.”  According to PsychCentral…

In the experiments, the researchers discovered that people preferred paltering to lying by commission, but the results of being found out can be just as harsh.

While palterers tended to think of their actions as more ethical because they essentially told the truth, when the deception was revealed, they were graded as harshly by their counterparts as if they had lied by commission, according to the study’s findings.

“When individuals discover that a prospective negotiation partner has paltered to them in the past, they are less likely to trust that partner and, therefore, less likely to negotiate with that person again,” said Rogers. “Taken together, our studies identify paltering as a distinct and frequently employed form of deception.” READ MORE

If you’re tired of being hurt by the dishonest people in your life, check out God Help Me, These People Are Driving Me Nuts!  to discover how you can set appropriate boundaries and protect your heart.

Therapy Alone Is Better Than Meds or Combined Approach for Treating Anxiety, Says New Research



A new study found that cognitive therapy alone is the most effective treatment for anxiety, beating both medication-only and combined medication and therapy.  The ten-year study found that 85% of people who received CBT alone for anxiety had successful treatment outcomes, which was a significantly higher recovery rate than either those who are treated with medication alone or with medication and therapy.

The reason, researchers point out, is that people who are treated with meds (either alone or combined with therapy) tend to rely too much on their medication to cure them.  As a result, they tend not to work as hard to learn and use the anxiety-busting techniques they can gain from therapy. According to researchers…

Many patients with social anxiety disorder are treated with a combination of talk therapy and medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), said Nordahl. However, these drugs may do more harm than good for these particular patients. He says that while SSRIs often work well in patients with depressive disorders, they actually have the opposite effect in people with social anxiety disorders.  SSRIs often have strong physical side effects as well. When patients have been on medications for some time and want to reduce them, the bodily feelings associated with social phobia, like shivering, flushing, and dizziness in social situations tend to return. Patients often end up in a state of severe social anxiety again.  “Patients often rely more on the medication and don’t place as much importance on therapy. They think it’s the drugs that will make them healthier, and they become dependent on something external rather than learning to regulate themselves. So the medication camouflages a very important patient discovery: that by learning effective techniques, they have the ability to handle their anxiety themselves,” says Nordahl. READ MORE

To learn more about faithful approaches to treating stress, anxiety and worry, check out God Help Me, This Stress is Driving Me Crazy or contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute (740-266-6461) to learn more about how our Catholic tele-counseling practice can help you cultivate a more peaceful heart.


Is Anxiety Sinful? A Faithful Response to the Problem of Fear



Of course, anxiety is not sinful, but saying that is little comfort to Christians who suffer with anxiety and feel that, somehow, they are letting God down by feeling the way they do. If you, or someone you love, is struggling with persistent worry or anxiety, I hope you will find this article I wrote for the latest issue of America magazine a source of comfort and strength.

Here is a sample of what you’ll find….

We are not to blame for our anxiety. But if we can, we must cultivate our ability to respond to our initial emotional reactions in thoughtful, graceful and productive ways that work for our good, facilitate godly relations with others and empower us to build God’s kingdom. This is exactly the skill that mindfulness-based approaches to anxiety treatment teach even to clients suffering from severe anxiety, although people who experience more common levels of stress and worry can also benefit from this approach.

That said, doing this often requires people to both make a mental shift about how they think about their feelings and learn new skills to deal with them. Many people experience their emotions—especially feelings of anxiety—as a tsunami against which resistance is futile. They feel that the best they can do is “manage” the onrushing emotional tide, desperately trying to limit the damage, but research shows we are capable of much more.

Brain scientists sometimes suggest that free will might more accurately be understood as “free won’t.” Although emotions rise up from the unconscious mind before our conscious mind is ever aware they are present, we can train our conscious mind to catch these surges of emotional energy and say, “I won’t react that way. I will respond this way instead.” Learning to take advantage of the tiny gap between our experience and our reaction to that experience is what psychologists call “response flexibility,” and it is the key to learning to modulate our own stress/anxiety response.

In a sense, mindfulness-based practices increase this space that exists between the trigger for our anxiety and our experience of anxiety, allowing us to respond to situations in ways that are healthy and ultimately healing. It takes practice, but the basic capacity to develop this skill is one of every human person’s most basic God-given freedoms. In the words of the psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl, who studied what gave concentration camp survivors the will to live—in some cases, heroically—despite their terrible conditions, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Response flexibility is the very heart of free will.  READ THE REST.