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Living From Happiness

The Happiness Doc, Dr. Melanie Harth, and guests share thought-provoking convos every week on Living From Happiness. From mindfulness and neuroscience to positive psychology and creativity, the show's all about living well in transformational times.
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Dec 8, 2022
Melanie shares several tips for enjoying the holidays in this episode. She also highlights some of the common holiday happiness traps that can cause folks a lot of sorrow, resentment and anger.
 
As she says, “while almost everyone has fantastical dreams of perfect holidays that go all the way back before we were able to talk and encode explicit memories, almost as many of us are stressed, overwhelmed, sad or depressed, and can even become bitterly disappointed … every holiday season.
 
There’s a lot of good news, though! When you slow down and mindfully manage your holidays, you’ll feel a lot better. And your beloveds will, too. (If they don’t? They’re not really beloveds, are they?)
 
Melanie also offers the latest neuroscience research findings to help you feel more ease-full and peaceful this year.
 
Her first tip? Don’t give away your ability to choose how and with whom you spend your time. As she says, “You don’t have to keep giving yourself, or your very precious time, or your emotional health and wellbeing away to ideas about how it’s supposed to be, or to people who cannot see you, respect you and offer you, at the very least, kindness.
 
“You don’t have to choose to keep on doin’ the holidays the same old ways it’s always been done.
 
“We’re living in a new world. And to the extent we can accept that, even surrender to the new reality, then we’ve given ourselves some sacred space to begin building new rituals and ceremonies and traditions.”
 
Can you give yourself some sacred space and create new rituals and ceremonies and traditions that are in alignment with who you are and what you need?
 
As usual, Melanie doesn’t shy away from talking about the difficult things that most of us would rather not think about. Things like toxic families, grieving your losses during this supposedly “HappyHappy” time, and how to navigate the season as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person).
 
And she also shares that a couple of the creative ideas that showed up surprised her, including her favorite, which she’s calling The Soup Circle!
 
She ends the show with a few poems to help sooth your nervous system and calm your weary mind, including this one entitled The Shortest Day, by Susan Cooper:

 

So the shortest day came, and the year died,

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive,

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, reveling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us—Listen!!

All the long echoes sing the same delight,

This shortest day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, feast, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And so do we, here, now,

This year and every year.

Welcome Yule!

 

More about Dr. Melanie Harth here: https://thesantafetherapist.com/about-santa-fe-therapist/

Nov 24, 2022
Silvia Stenitzer returns to the studio for this episode. Silvia’s a licensed professional clinical counselor in Santa Fe. She has a private practice as a psychotherapist. And she also trains the trainers, offering continuing education workshops throughout the year for licensed counselors.
 
She has specialized training in some important areas, including somatic therapy and interpersonal neurobiology.
 
Melanie and Silvia share ideas about how to manage the holiday season when it feels overwhelming, or if you’ll be spending time with toxic people, including family.
 
Some of the topics include how healing can happen in relationships, and that sometimes the people who drive you the most crazy can be sources to help you deepen into your evolutionary journey.
 
Narcissists and attachment styles are part of the discussion, as well.
 
Melanie shares the 5 S’s, from neuroscientist and psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel. The 5 S’s can be helpful to use when your nervous system has been activated, and you need some help with emotional safety and emotional regulation. 
 
The 5 S’s are five fundamental needs that all humans have. They are:
 

“1) Be SEEN—meaning our inner life is perceived, made sense of, and responded to in a timely and effective manner. The attunement of others helps us “feel felt” in the world.

2) Be SOOTHED—meaning that our distress is noted and the interactions with others helps us to feel calmer, more at ease. This interactive soothing becomes internal soothing as we develop.

3) Be SAFE—meaning that we are protected from harm and also that those we care about are not the source of terror. This is how we come to have a sense of trust in others.

4) Be SECURE—meaning that we develop an overall internal model of solidity, enabling us to feel that in general, we are worthy of being seen, soothed, and safe and that we can rely on others for this important sense of connection.

In addition, a “fifth S” might be the notion of “SENSE-making”—meaning how we rely on our interactions with others to make sense of the world. This making sense process enables us to feel a coherence between what we experience ourselves and how we are told the world actually is. With a coherent sense-making experience, we have what some researchers term, “epistemic trust.”

Furthermore, Siegel says “But if your family has not in the past provided these S’s of security for you or others, then this list may be helpful to keep in mind as you enter this holiday season. We have a saying that you can ‘name it to tame it,’ meaning that if you name an emotional state it will help you create equilibrium in your life. If you are at the dinner table and Aunt Mary doesn’t see you as you are discussing some important issues in your life, when the feeling of disconnection arises, say to yourself, with your inner voice, ‘Ah—how fascinating—agitation from not being SEEN. That’s one of those S’s of security, fully missing here from her reactions to me, no wonder I have this unsettling feeling of disconnection.’ You may not be able to change Aunt Mary, but you can change how you understand and respond to her non-secure ways of interacting with you.
 
Finally, Siegel writes that you can be your own secure attachment figure. “You can see what is actually going on inside you with clarity and acceptance, you can soothe your own inner distress, you can keep yourself safe, and you can make sense of what is going on as you name it to tame it.” https://drdansiegel.com/expanding-your-holiday-hub/
 
 
Silvia Stenitzer’s website here: https://silviastenitzer.com/
 
Dr. Melanie Harth’s website here: https://thesantafetherapist.com/
 
 
Questions or comments about the show: happiness@ksfr.org.
Nov 17, 2022
Kimberley Brown is the guest on this episode which focuses on how to navigate grief and loss. Kim is a popular meditation teacher and author. She leads classes and workshops that emphasize the power of compassion and kindness to reconnect us to ourselves and others.
 
She studies in both the Tibetan and Insight schools of Buddhism and is a Certified Mindfulness Instructor.
 
Kim and Melanie talk all about her newest book, titled Navigating Grief and Loss: 25 Buddhist Practices to Keep Your Heart Open to Yourself and Others.
 
She’s a lovely teacher who’s written a very accessible book to help guide folks through how to feel safe feeling all of our emotions and understanding how to be compassionate and kind to ourselves, no matter what shows up.
 
For the truth is that this is when healing begins.
 
Her book chapters are titled by different kinds of losses, including
  • sudden death, or conversely,
  • when you know it’s coming,
  • losing a child or grandchild,
  • if your family disappoints you,
  • grieving for strangers,
  • and beloved pets, among others.
 
One of the things that Buddhism teaches is that “everything is impermanent and death can happen at any moment, to anyone, at any age … it’s the nature of life,” as Kim writes.
 
Further, “for us to live fully with this unsettling truth requires that we acknowledge impermanence and change, be willing to mourn loss and face grief, and meet the unexpected with gentleness rather than denial or blame.
 
Kim and Melanie share ideas for how to deal with emotions such as anger, compassion, anticipatory grief, collective grief, and how to hold our grief during the holidays.
 
This is a lovely show, with many ideas to ponder.
 
Kimberly Brown’s website here: https://www.meditationwithheart.com/
 
Dr. Melanie Harth’s website here: https://thesantafetherapist.com/
 
Questions or suggestions: email happiness@ksfr.org
 
 

Grief Counseling in Santa Fe, NM

Sadness and loss are part of being alive. And grieving our losses is part of what it means to live a rich, full life. If you’re stuck in the past and can’t seem to move forward on your own, or living with ambiguous loss, please reach out to schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation: melanie@melanieharth.com

I’m Melanie, the Santa Fe Therapist. My compassionate, creative approach to grief counseling in Santa Fe NM weaves together my ability to hear below the surface of the words, advanced degrees, years of specialized training, professional experience, and personal experiences healing from loss.

I use the latest neuroscience research as I combine Western systems, Eastern wisdom, Earth-based practices, as well as creative, innovative ideas to help you process and heal.

Clients usually work with me once a week for 8-12 months. As we work together, you’ll process your sadness and loss in an emotionally safe space, and begin learning how to step into the world again, on your terms.

Please know that I welcome ongoing conversations about making therapy the best experience it can be for you.

The Santa Fe Therapist Offers Online Counseling in Santa Fe, NM

Online therapy helps women who are struggling with grief and loss find the time away from day-to-day pressures to calm their nervous systems. It also makes it easy and convenient to process emotions and learn new neuroscience techniques cope with challenges, heal the past, and begin building your future.

I strongly believe in the power of online counseling. Along with the research that proves its effectiveness, I see the positive benefits for clients every week. Click here if you've got questions about online therapy.

Online counseling from anywhere in New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Los Alamos, Pecos, Las Vegas, Tesuque and El Dorado.

How to Get Grief Counseling in Santa Fe NM

You don’t have to suffer alone anymore. Please, send me an email, and let’s schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation: melanie@melanieharth.com, for grief counseling in Santa Fe.

Other Services From The Santa Fe Therapist

The Santa Fe Therapist specializes in several areas of health, wellbeing, healing and recovery. We know that one size never fits all. Our services are individualized to each client, and are based on your values, your needs and desires, and your goals.

We offer individual adult counseling and guidance in Santa Fe NM for:

 
 
Nov 3, 2022
Have you ever been told that you’re “too sensitive,” thinking too much, or that you should be happy going to parties ‘cause the more the merrier?
 
Do you hide you who are because you’ve been shamed or told there’s something wrong with you?
 
You might be an HSP, a highly sensitive person.
 
Melanie (Dr. Melanie Harth) explains what being an HSP means, and offers lots of ideas and strategies for coping with too much stress, overwhelm, and an over-stimulated nervous system.
 
She references the work of the psychologist who developed the theory, Dr. Elaine Aron, author of several books on being highly sensitive, including her first one, "The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.”
 
One quote Melanie shares in this episode from the book is "If you are going to notice every little thing in a situation, and if the situation is complicated (many things to remember), intense (noisy, cluttered, etc), or goes on too long (a 2-hour commute), it seem obvious that you will also have to wear out sooner from having to process so much so thoroughly. Others, not noticing much or any of what you have, will not tire as quickly [or at all!].
 
"They may even think it quite strange that you find it too much to sightsee all day and go to a nightclub in the evening. … . Indeed this is often the behavior we and others have noticed most — that HSPs are easily stressed by overstimulation (including social stimulation), or, having learned their lesson, that they avoid intense situations more than others do.”
 
Melanie shares information about what being highly sensitive can look like in different people, along with ways that an HSP can cause problems for themselves.
 
Other areas she covers include HSPs and narcissists, HSPs and shame, HSPs and psychological/mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, and ways to help soothe yourself.
 
Dr. Elaine Aron’s website here, including the free quiz: https://hsperson.com/
 
Dr. Melanie Harth’s website here: https://thesantafetherapist.com/
Oct 20, 2022
Dur e Aziz Amna is the guest who’s keeping Melanie on her toes in this insightful, wide-ranging, and delightful conversation.
 
Aziz Amna grew up in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. She graduated from Yale College and the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Financial Times, and Aljazeera, among others. Winner of the 2019 Financial Times Essay Prize, she was longlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award 2020.
 
Her brand-new debut novel is American Fever. And it’s a powerhouse of a novel. The protagonist, Hira, is an adolescent Pakistani girl who comes of age as an exchange student in rural Oregon.
 
Hira's voice is impressive, with observations ranging from who she is to who she is not. Here's one example, “I don’t yet know how to react to life—its sadness and disappointments—without blaming those around me, because I am only half formed and so it feels to me that I am nothing but the sum of other people’s actions.”
 
Another quote from Hira as the older narrator is, “At 16, I was tired of limits, aghast that life could be so small. Tired of the same girls I had known all my life, girls who called their periods their ‘visitors’… who didn’t know, didn’t desire to know, how powerful and clever and beautiful they were, who had already decided on the low, petty ceilings of their limits.”
 
Finally, from Hira, as narrator/observer, comes this, Stereotypes happen when you don’t understand the thing itself, and so you interpret it. This is not an account of how America was. It’s an account of who I was.”
 
The conversation between Dur e Aziz Amna and Melanie touches on themes such as:
  • emigration and immigration
  • assimilation
  • what “home” means
  • globalization
  • racism and Othering
  • the challenges presented when we stereotype something
  • the place of one’s culture and tradition
  • the hubris, ignorance, and fear of at least some of “America” and Americans
 
The two women also talk quite a bit about happiness and well-being in the 2nd half of this episode. Dur e has a lot to say about this and does so with style and grace.
 
This show is for snuggling down with a cuppa on a lazy early evening and spending the hour with friends enjoying each other's company.
 
Dur e Aziz Amna’s website here: https://www.dureazizamna.com/
 
Dr. Melanie Harth’s website here: https://thesantafetherapist.com/
 
Questions or comments? Send them to happiness@ksfr.org.
Oct 6, 2022
This is an intimate episode with Melanie sharing an essay from the scientist, activist, humanitarian and writer Barry Lopez. The essay is from his last book, “Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World,” published posthumously.
 
Lopez makes a poignant plea to not fall into despair and hopelessness at the state of the world.

Building on the foundation of Lopez’s essay, Melanie shares several suggestions for how to find joy in dark times. The focus is on simple ways to help reset your nervous system in challenging times.
 
For instance, did you know that trying to resist painful emotions increases psychological suffering? 
 
Or that helping other people or a cause that’s important to you has been proven over and over again to helps get you out of your little mind and ego and into something more important? It helps manage the non-stop ruminating monkey mind thing.
 
Also,  nature is a powerful healer! Hanging out in nature can help elicit joy and happiness.
 
She also shares several pieces of writing from the poets David Whyte and Mary Oliver, educational visionary Maria Montessori, and the Zen Buddhist teacher and writer Thich Nhat Hanh.
 
Dr. Melanie Harth’s website here: https://thesantafetherapist.com/
 
 
Sep 22, 2022

Shepherd Siegel, PhD, has written a lot of books, including two in which he writes about the importance of the Trickster mythology.

Shep is an activist, writer, musician, researcher, prankster and author of the book we talk about in this episode — “Tricking Power Into Performing Acts of Love: How Tricksters Through History Have Changed the World.”

The Trickster archetype, or myth, or god/goddess, is one of the most ancient deities, found in almost every indigenous culture around the globe. In the southwestern United States, the Trickster is often portrayed as Kokopelli.

In his book, Shep writes "about how grown-ups who have retained the ability to be playful as they were when a child view and behave in the world. Such a grown-up will consciously or unconsciously engage with the Trickster."

One of Trickster's main characteristics is having fun and playing, no matter what else is going on around him or her.

Shep brilliantly leads us through his research findings, tells beautiful stories of different Trickster deities, and Melanie asks a lot of questions.

As he writes, "The trickster just sets out to have fun, and somebody might get hurt, but the intentions are never to deliberately hurt others. In fact, quite the opposite: this book is about the role of the trickster (human), and the Trickster (demigod, archetype), in opening our eyes and our minds to the tangible possibility of a more perfect and playful society, a utopia if you will.”

 
Dr. Melanie Harth’s website: www.TheSantaFeTherapist.com.
Sep 8, 2022

September 7th, 2022 

There are a lot of ways to help reduce anxiety. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), mindfulness (especially MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), and emotional regulation can absolutely change your life for the better if you're struggling with anxiety.

There are also plenty of ways to get creative when you're feeling overwhelmed.

  • Music is super-powerful for self-soothing an anxious mind. Sometimes when my mind is scurrying around in too much worry, I listen to quiet jazz (or classical and all dance music, from 60s soul to contemporary salsa). Find your happy place with music and listen away (yep, I had to get up offa' my thing and dance listening to this!).
  • Finally, if you're curious about divination tools such as Tarot cards, the I-Ching, Runes, or astrology, learning more about whatever's calling you can also provide creative ways to work with anxiety.

Note: if anxiety symptoms are getting in the way of work and relationships or causing health issues, please talk to a professional anxiety counselor and get help.

Can Astrology Help Reduce Anxiety?

Maybe. Sometimes. Sometimes a lot.

I recently spent an hour interviewing the nationally known astrologer Elisabeth Grace. We talked a lot about events and people in the news. We also talked about how understanding the bigger astrological picture of why things happen the way they do can help you feel less anxious.

In my experience, it can be a helpful tool along with psychotherapy when struggling with how to reduce anxiety. And according to The Atlantic, astrology is having a moment.

Astrology offers an understanding of the planetary patterns that reflect your life's potential.

Another way it can be helpful is that, once you understand those planetary patterns reflected in how you make choices, you can learn how to surf the waves of the inevitable life changes and curve balls everyone has to deal with.

Elisabeth and I talked about the chaos that seems to be happening these days. She mentioned the esteemed American historian Heather Cox Richardson (her free Facebook pageher paid substack page). If you're interested in current events and politics and how history repeats itself, check her out.

In the second half of the episode, I get personal with part of my astrology chart so Elisabeth could explain how a chart works.

Elisabeth Grace website here

more from Dr. Melanie Harth, The Santa Fe Therapist: https://thesantafetherapist.com/

Aug 18, 2022

David McRaney is an author, science journalist, lecturer, and the creator of the blog You Are Not So Smart, which became an internationally bestselling book, later followed by You Are Now Less Dumb.

He hosts the popular YANSS podcast and speaks internationally about irrational thinking and delusion.

And David has a new book called “How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion.”

This is a big show, covering a lot of ground. He and Melanie discuss the psychology of changing minds, both our own as well as others. How to have conversations that might be difficult is part of the thread.

As David said, “It’s more about how you’re approaching the conversation.”

And he gets into the particulars of what contemporary interdisciplinary scientific research says is most effective at helping us approach a difficult conversation and maybe even persuade someone to change their mind.

David’s got an intriguing interdisciplinary approach, encompassing the fields of psychology, sociology, conflict, tribal psychology, and yes ... even more.

As he writes in his book, “How Minds Change”:


Societies aren’t fixed. Large social systems, though they seem stable, are always changing in subtle ways that are imperceptible to the people living within them. Even if thresholds remain constant in a way that prevents a cascade from building momentum within a single group, all manner of circumstances can affect the average number of connections between groups, altering the conditions in ways that randomly create percolating vulnerable clusters. Any society can, without its knowledge, change from one in which a global cascade is impossible to one in which it could happen at any time. Repeated shocks to the system that before seemed futile now have the potential to change the world.

Change can creep along with no signs of meaningful progress for decades. It makes the status quo seem like it was unanimously agreed upon, stable and eternal. It makes mind change seem impossible — until one day, a lucky strike causes so much change that everyone’s thresholds are met within a percolating cluster. Then the culture-wide spread begins. A social change cascading this way reach everyone except those who have difficult-to-meet thresholds who are part of a cluster that is disconnected from the network, cult, an insulated religion, or a remote community.


Living from happiness includes many moving parts, including psychological resilience and the ability to adapt as change happens. Especially important skills to cultivate in this rapidly accelerating era of
change, right?

David’s an engaging, articulate, super-smart, and fun guy. Listen in to the pod, and let us know your thoughts: happiness@ksfr.org.

David McRaney’s book "How Minds Work" here: https://www.davidmcraney.com/

Dr. Melanie Harth, The Santa Fe Therapist, website here: https://thesantafetherapist.com/

Jul 7, 2022

Linda Durham has been one of the most influential people in the Santa Fe contemporary art scene for over 30 years.

Her professional and personal lives center on art, artists, global travel, and humanitarian causes.

She's the founder and director of Santa Fe’s Wonder Institute, which sponsors art exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and salons focused on discovering and implementing creative solutions to contemporary social and cultural issues.

For more than three decades, Durham promoted New Mexico-based artists as the hands-on owner of a contemporary art gallery with seven exhibition locations through the years: six in Santa Fe, and one in New York.

In 2012, the New Mexico Museum of Art acquired her extensive gallery archives.

A prolific writer and speaker, she has been guest lecturer or workshop presenter at Brigham Young University, the University of Wisconsin, Ohio Wesleyan University, Yale University, the Sundance Institute, the College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Community College, and the New Mexico Museum of Art.

For her seventieth birthday, Durham circumnavigated the world in seventy days, meeting Indigenous women, educators, artists, entrepreneurs, and peace activists, and planting “Seeds of Peace” in gardens, schoolyards, and parks in South Africa, Lesotho, Madagascar, Thailand, Myanmar, and Hawaii.

Linda's fascinating life is chronicled in her memoir "Still Moving."

In this episode, she and Melanie share an intimate conversation sitting at Linda's dining room table. The two riff on beauty as a healing balm, transitions and transformations in a life well lived, and some personal acts of generosity on Linda's part that've meant a great deal to many friends and acquaintances.

They also talked about courage, one of the hallmarks of Linda's professional and personal lives. She quotes the following in her memoir:

Long before morning, I knew that what I was seeking to discover was a thing I’d always known. That all courage was a form of constancy. That it was always himself that the coward abandoned first. After this all other betrayals came easily.

–Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Dr. Melanie Harth, The Santa Fe Therapist website here

Jun 23, 2022

Dr. Mike Rucker is an organizational psychologist and charter member of the International Positive Psychology Association. His work has been published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management and Nutrition Research.

Mike's ideas about fun and health have been featured in The Wall Street JournalForbesVox, Thrive Global, mindbodygreen, and more. Named one of ten digital changemakers by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, he currently serves as a senior leader at Active Wellness.

Mike's newest book, "The Fun Habit: How the Disciplined Pursuit of Joy and Wonder Can Change Your Life," sounds a little frivolous and silly during this time of so much upheaval.

Melanie was surprised, and heartened to discover just how much serious a researcer Mike is, and how much deep thought and wisdom he poured into his book.

Topics in this episode include happiness, positive psychology, neuroscience and how the mind works, how fun keeps us healthy, toxic positivity, mindfulness, and yes ... so much more.

Give a listen to this enlightening and light-hearted conversation, won't you?

“Extraordinary experiences require us to make deliberate choices. Transformative moments don’t often fall out of the sky, but there are definitely ways to increase their frequency. If you want a twist of fate, starting twisting. Chosing fun every day in small, seemingly superficial ways can, over time, lead you to new patterns of behavior—new and better choices. What starts as a dance with whimsy may lead to you discovering The Mystery, with your joy lighting the path.” - Dr. Mike Rucker

“We all have the agency to live more joyful lives; we just don’t have the right tools.” - Dr. Mike Rucker

Learn more about the "fun" guy at MichaelRucker.com

Dr. Melanie Harth, The Santa Fe Therapist, website here

Jun 16, 2022

Daniel Bergner is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of five previous books of award-winning nonfiction. His writing has also appeared in the AtlanticGrantaHarper’s MagazineMother JonesTalk, and the New York Times Book Review.

Finally, his newest book, the most personal, is "The Mind and The Moon: My Brother’s Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches."

So many issues are explored in this fascinating episode. From questioning our understanding of psychosis to biological treatment modalities, and from exploring the differences between brain and mind to how biological psychiatry has contributed real harm to millions of people, this is one.big.episode.

Meticulously researched, Daniel's latest book lends weight to the growing national conversation questioning the medicalization of mental illness.

Daniel and Melanie talk about some of the many paradigm-shatteirng interviews he did with renowned neuroscience researchers. A few examples are:

  • “The more drugs [antipsychotics] you’ve been given, the more brain tissue you lose.”
  • “Psychiatry has lacked a ground truth. It’s a house of cards built on serendipitously discovered drugs. How people could think that mediocre — important but mediocre — drugs like the SSRIs could give us any comprehension is beyond me.” Steven Hyman
  • “The big picture is that we really know very little about psychosis and what is going wrong in the brain. It’s remarkable why we don’t know." Donald C. Goff

What happens to your psyche (translated from ancient Greek as "soul") when your brain works differently from the norm, and is too medicated to function?

What's the result when mental illness has been medicalized based on faulty or non-existent science?

As Daniel writes:

 … Maybe the way biological psychiatry most stigmatizes and isolates is by alienating us from ourselves, by defining and circumscribing and sometimes damning and imprisoning us in our own eyes. It is interesting that the profession may do to its patients precisely what we are advised not to do in raising our children.

One of the fascinating people Daniel met as he wrote the book was Caroline, who has intimate, in-depth, personal experience with mental illness and psychiatric interventions. Caroline is a leader in the Hearing Voices Network and the creator of a groundbreaking suicide prevention program. She calls the current mental health system, especially treatment for severe mental illness and psychosis, a “system of oppression. … . People have been in need of support, and what they’ve received is risk management.”

The idea that medicating our brains will lead us to mental health has been criticized by the World Health Organization. As Daniel writes,

Last June [2021], the World Health Organization published a 300-page directive on the human rights of mental-health clients — and despite the mammoth bureaucracy from which it emerged, it is a revolutionary manifesto on the subject of severe psychiatric disorders. It challenges biological psychiatry’s authority, its expertise and insight about the psyche.

This is an incredible episode with a brilliant thought leader about matters that affect so many of us. Listen in, share, send us your thoughts: happiness@ksfr.org.

Jun 2, 2022

What's emotional health and wellbeing, and why does it matter? That's a big question, and Daryl Van Tongeren has lots of answers and ideas.

Daryl is a social psychologist, college professor, a person who now knows how to swim (which I learned about after reading his newest book), and author of The Courage to Suffer.

His latest book, Humble: Free Yourself from the Traps of a Narcissistic World, is the focus of this thoughtful and thought-provoking podcast. Click here to listen to information and wisdom about emotional health and wellbeing.

What's Emotional Health & Wellbeing?

Here's a quick checklist for emotional health and wellbeing:

  • Do you know how you're feeling throughout the day?
  • Do your feelings change a lot, either way up or way down? 
  • Are you comfortable feeling angry?
  • Can you admit to yourself when you're upset or sad?
  • Do you give yourself time to process your emotions?
  • Can you tell another person how you're feeling, no matter what it is?
  • Can you say something to another person if you think they'll be hurt or angry, or do you stay quiet?
  • Do you upset other people if you're too emotional?
  • Are you a rager, emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive to yourself or other people?
  • Does it sometimes seem like you can't control your emotions?
  • Have you ever lost friends, lovers, partners, or jobs because you have a hard time managing or communicating how you're feeling?

The more comfortable you are with your emotions and know how to communicate them in healthy ways to others and set firm boundaries, the healthier you are emotionally.

You're not afraid of your feelings, nor are you afraid to express them in healthy ways to others. Importantly, you also know how important it is to set good boundaries. Your overall well-being will get stronger and stronger when you do these things.

Well-being means feeling comfortable, healthy, and happy. The good and bad news is that you're the only one in charge of that.

And when you take charge of your emotional health and well-being, your life and everything in it begins feeling so much better, can I just tell you?! You'll be making good choices for yourself, feeling satisfied and fulfilled with work, and joyful in reciprocal relationships (each gives and takes equally).

Yay, life.

An Epidemic of Narcissism

Daryl has a lot of fascinating things to say about narcissism, including that “the last two decades have been a shrine to ‘the Self’, [which means that] we’ve put our meaning and happiness in other people’s hands.”

Most of us have a "fragile sense of self — we’re externally puffed up and internally hollow: sad, lonely, and anxious."

Another point Daryl makes is that “our preoccupation with ourselves seems to be backfiring.”

It doesn't take a lot of effort to look around and see the rampant narcissism running through so many leaders. Also, it's easy to see how our preoccupation with ourselves has marginalized and isolated far too many people.

And the truth is that too many of my beloved therapy clients are caught in the trap of narcissist relationships. So many people have never been taught about emotional health and well-being, which means they don't know how to teach their children. And so the unhealthy cycle continues.

How Mindfulness Helps With Emotional Health & Wellbeing

Daryl believes that "seeing the world accurately and objectively" is the first step in cultivating humility, handling conflict, and setting good boundaries.

Mindfulness, also called mindful awareness, is how we can begin doing that.

Sometimes we need to have "tough conversations" with ourselves, which mindfulness helps us do.

Daryl writes that we can begin cultivating humility in this narcissistic culture by starting from a place of emotional self-acceptance. 

Emotional self-acceptance is also where mindfulness comes in because it helps you 1) become more aware of your emotions and 2) learn that whatever you're feeling is OK.

There's great freedom and emotional health in seeing who you are and allowing yourself to feel whatever is true for you.

Reducing Defensiveness Increases Emotional Health

Mindful awareness also helps you realize when you're maybe being a tiny bit extra defensive. You know that knee-jerk reaction to defend yourself against any possible attack, whether or not it's ever gonna happen? Yeah, that defensiveness.

It's easy to develop the habit of going on the attack before you get attacked, just in case you are going to get attacked, right? But that defensiveness can keep you disconnected from yourself and other people. No one needs any more loneliness or to be any more disconnected.

Importantly, mindfulness helps your awareness of yourself and can help you accept how things are, including how you are.

Also, it's an excellent help for emotional regulation and understanding how to deal with emotions in a healthy way, which is the foundation for emotional health and well-being.

Finally, it can help you figure out if you're too attached to ideas about how things are supposed to work, your job or career, and the people in your life who may be toxic.

The Meaning of Humility

The meaning of humility, according to Daryl Van Tongeren, is

a secure openness to the world, where we can be honest with ourselves and others about our strengths and limitations.

It's a way of approaching ourselves, other people, and the world around us with a sense of enough-ness … that opens us to the world as it is.

[It's] knowing yourself, checking yourself (ego), and going beyond yourself (an orientation toward other people).

He also says that humility means "being the right size." I love that description.

I'll admit that I learned a lot from spending the time to read Daryl's book, as well as the hour we spent doing the radio show. The definition of humility he offers is a lovely touchstone for checking in with ourselves about our emotional health and our mindset.

If you feel secure being open to the world, can hear your truth about how you're feeling, and are confident that you.are.enough ... well, then, you're pretty good to go.

Your emotional health will be robust, and your mindset will be open and connected to yourself and others in healthy, compassionate ways.

The Santa Fe Therapist Approach to Emotional Health & Wellbeing

I’m Melanie, the Santa Fe Therapist. I think of emotional health and wellbeing as “loving yourself into wholeness.” 

In my experience, learning how to love yourself can be a lifelong journey. Emotional and spiritual healing and wellbeing happen when you deepen into your true self, uncovering, processing, and releasing layer after layer of learned self-doubt, even self-hatred.

Then, you can begin replacing those unhealthy layers with what's good and true and authentic for you.

It’s really about understanding how to feel emotionally safe in a dangerous world. You'll experience freedom when you know how to recognize being connected with something grander (and more important) than your tiny, ego-based monkey-mind thinking. That connection can be as simple and beautiful as loving and caring for your doggo.

The Santa Fe Therapist Offers Online Counseling in Santa Fe, NM

Online therapy helps stressed women find the time away from day-to-day pressures to calm their nervous systems. It also makes it easy and convenient to process emotions and learn new neuroscience techniques to cope with challenges, heal the past, and begin building your future..

I strongly believe in the power of online counseling. Along with the research that proves its effectiveness, I see the positive benefits for my clients every week. If you've got questions about online therapy, please click here.

Online counseling from anywhere in New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Los Alamos, Pecos, Las Vegas, Tesuque and El Dorado.

What to do Now for Emotional Health & Wellbeing in Santa Fe, NM

You don't have to suffer alone anymore. Please, send me an email, and let's schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation: melanie@melanieharth.com.

Other Services From The Santa Fe Therapist

The Santa Fe Therapist specializes in several areas of health, wellbeing, healing and recovery. We know that one size never fits all. Our services are individualized to each client, and are based on your values, your needs and desires, and your goals.

We offer individual adult counseling and guidance in Santa Fe NM for:

May 19, 2022

Feeling sad and feeling anxious are two common signs of ambiguous loss. Dr. Pauline Boss, one of the world's leading experts on ambiguous loss, shares insights and research in The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change, her newest book.

Dr. Boss is a psychologist, thought leader, emeritus professor, and author of the seminal books Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous Loss, and The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss In A Time of Pandemic and Change.

She's known worldwide for developing the theory of ambiguous loss and as a pioneer in the interdisciplinary study of family stress management.

And at the age of 87, she's having a moment!

A delightful guest, Pauline freely shares some of her personal journey and how her experiences of loss changed the scope of her newest book even as she was writing it.

She says that ambiguous loss is "an unclear loss." And that many people don't realize they're grieving. The result can be that the grief then becomes frozen.

When we understand that how we're feeling and why we're feeling it is because we're grieving an unclear loss, our lives can begin making more sense.

Examples of ambiguous loss include

  • the Covid pandemic,
  • leaving one’s home and/or country as an immigrant or refugee, romantic relationship breakups,
  • divorces,
  • family disintegration,
  • adoption
  • caretaking an elderly spouse, partner, parent, or adult child with physical and/or mental health issues.

Pauline Boss makes it clear that most caregivers are not depressed. Nor should they be labeled with a pathogizing diagnosis they don't deserve.

What many caregivers are is sad. And it's a sadness that's very normal and understandable given the circumstances.

Closure on normal grieving is a myth. Grief does not end. Further, if we've loved someone or something, we want to remember. Because we're remembering with love.

Pauline offers thoughtful, and helpful counsel for how to increase our tolerance for ambiguous loss, and continue moving forward with our lives, even as we hold what's dear to us in our hearts.

 

If you're feeling sad, depressed, confused about how to move forward after a traumatic change, or if you'd like to explore grief counseling in Santa Fe, please reach out to the Santa Fe Therapist for a free 15-minute phone consult.

Send an email to melanie@melanieharth.com and schedule a session, won't you?

May 5, 2022

Self-awareness and self-compassion are the touchstones of this fascinating episode.

Silvia Stenitzer is a licensed psychotherapist in Santa Fe, NM. She's gathered an eclectic array of well-researched techniques she uses to help her clients, and to train the trainers.

Silvia "trusts the deep wisdom of the body, our innate self-healing abilities, and the magic of interpersonal connection. Movement, action, psychodrama, improvisation, art expression, dreams, play, meditation are our allies on the journey to Self."

Melanie and Silvia share thoughts and experiences of the importance of the mind-body connection, and the deep wisdom that we have available to us all the time when we know how to hear it.

Self-awareness is an interesting phenomenon. You'd think we'd all know how we're feeling, and why -- what triggered us -- to feel what we're feeling.

But most of us don't. At all. We're such a "neck-up" culture, meaning that we believe that our brain lives in our heads, with our bodies and energetic hearts somehow just along for the ride.

Being self-awareness means that you know who you are in this moment. You're not afraid of your emotions. You can feel them and name.

You understand that how you're feeling isn't necessarily something to act on, or react to.

You recogize your thoughts and beliefs, and accept that your thoughts are just thoughts, and your beliefs aren't necessarily objective Truth with a capital T.

From this place of self-awareness, you're then able to think more clearly, feel more deeply, and make much better decisions and choices for you and your loved ones.

Another powerful practice to cultive is self-compassion. The truth is that, once you begin developing self-awareness, you'll be seeing and feeling some things about yourself that aren't always pretty or pleasant.

That's OK. You're human. When you can feel compassion -- kindness, gentleness, and tenderness -- toward yourself, you'll begin experiencing such delicious and healing things as inner balance and inner harmony.

 

If you're feeling out of balance, anxious, sad and lonely, or confused about self-awareness and self-compassion can help you, please reach out to the Santa Fe Therapist for a free 15-minute phone consult. Send an email to melanie@melanieharth.com and schedule a session, won't you?

Apr 21, 2022
What's the connection between C-PTSD, activism and hope? Melanie and Artemisio Romero y Carver dive into all of it in this fast-paced episode. Arte is a Chicana artist, poet, and grassroots organizer. Santa Fe Youth Poet Laureate in 2020, Arte's voice is informed, intelligent, and vibrant with hope.

Sharing openly about his diagnosis of CPTSD, as a result of his early childhood experiences, he and Melanie talk about the stress of living in a chaotic world with so many challenges facing his generation, including the climate crisis.

C-PTSD, or complex PTSD, shares a lot of symptoms with PTSD, although it's different in one important aspect.

C-PTSD can develop as a result of repeated stressful or traumatic events that happen over months or even years.

"A recent study by the National Survey of Children's Health found that almost 50% of the children in the United States have had at least one significant traumatic experience. Even more recently, a study from 2019 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 60% of American adults report having had at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), and almost a quarter reported three or more ACEs. These numbers are even more sobering when you consider that the CDC researchers believe them to be an underestimate" (from What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, Bruce Perry MD, PhD, Oprah Winfrey).

Some common symptoms of C-PTSD include

  • feeling overwhelmed,
  • anxious all the time,
  • having trouble sleeping,
  • emotionally out of balance,
  • irritable and angry and sad,
  • tired, and
  • hopeless.

If you're struggling with C-PTSD, you may find relationships challenging. You might have issues feeling emotionally safe with other people, and not understand how to trust others (or yourself).

You may avoid intimacy because you just don't understand it.

Conflict may feel terrifying for you. Or, on the other hand, you may be so comfortable with conflict and arguing that you push people away.

If any of this feels familiar to you, please reach out to the Santa Fe Therapist for a free 15-minute phone consult. Send an email to melanie@melanieharth.com and schedule a session, won't you?

Apr 7, 2022

Anxiety, depression, and addictive behaviors can be best friends. I'm talking about the kind of "best" friend that can suck you in so deeply that you forget who you are and how it feels to be healthy and thriving.

Yvonne Castaneda is a licensed social worker, adjunct professor of Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, online facilitator of BC School of Theology and Ministry, and author of the new book, Pork Belly Tacos With a Side of Anxiety: My Journey Through Depression, Bulimia, and Addiction.

She's an expert in anxiety, depression, and addictive behaviors. She's also super articulate and a lot of fun!

This thought-provoking, light-hearted conversation touches on a wide range of topics, including cultural identity. Yvonne identifies as Latina, writing that her identity "as a Latina is rooted in the core values we share as a people, in our ability to overcome hardships with tenacity, perseverance, and determination, in the underlying passion and respect for life that I've encountered in all of the [Latinos] who have crossed my path, our cultural differences not strong enough to drive us apart because combined we wrote the book on how to laugh, how to love and how to vivir."

In addition to Latina cultural identity, Yvonne and Dr. Melanie Harth, the show host, talk about how:

  • anxiety and depression can develop in children and adolescents
  • early signs of the eating disorder bulimia
  • anxiety and depression can lead to disordered eating in adolescents
  • low self-confidence and low self-esteem can contribute to eating disorders
  • shame develops and contributes to anxiety, depression, and addictive behaviors
  • Latino families can unknowingly encourage eating disorders in children and adolescents

As Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, wrote"There are wounds of the spirit impossible to heal alone. Yvonne Castañeda is a healer healing others by sharing her own story. This book resonated deeply with me, as it will with many who are lost when their DNA contradicts the image of the ideal."

"Anxiety, Depression, & Addictive Behaviors" is a beautiful episode, with Yvonne Castenada and Melanie Harth sharing sensitive experiences with transparency, clinical knowledge, and the wisdom earned through painful personal experiences.

Dr. Melanie Harth, Santa Fe therapist and life coach, helps stressed women struggling with anxiety, sadness and grief, and low self-esteem. Click here for her website.

Oct 26, 2021

Guest Duff McDonald, journalist and New York Times bestselling author, discusses his philosophy, and his new book, "Tickled: A Commonsense Guide To The Present Moment."

Oct 12, 2021

Melanie continues her conversation with Aliza Einhorn, astrologer, and author of A Mystical Practical Guide to Magic: Instructions for Seekers, Witches, & Other Spiritual Misfits.

Oct 5, 2021

Guest host Diane Tegmeyer talks with author and expert on American cheeses, Laura Werlin.

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