Category Archives: Armchair Psych

Does Living In Unfavorable Weather Make You A Better Neighbor?

credit abcactionnews.com
credit abcactionnews.com

I’m an Arizona native. During my time living in this state I have been able to make several observations about social behavior in the area. One such observation has do with the way neighbors tend to interact  with each other on a consistent basis.

During my time as an adult I’ve had the opportunity to live in an apartment complex and 2 houses. Let’s set aside the apartment living, as based on demographics and transition it would stand to reason that the tenants may not have a chance to get to know each other very well.

Our first house in Chandler was for a 9-year duration, and the second has been 6 years now. While we realize that it isn’t the 1950s, it was slightly disappointing to not be welcomed to the neighborhood by anyone on our street at both houses. So we went ahead and put some effort forth to meet a few of the neighbors. Those conversations were nice, cordial , and fairly brief in nature. Afterwards whenever we would see those neighbors, either while pulling into the carport or garage or working out in front of their house,  a somewhat forced “hi” with the wave of a hand followed.

Over time we noticed that not much changed with the social behavior of the neighbors. No one really seemed to know each other, despite many of the residents having lived there for a period of years. It was very uncommon to see neighbors visiting with each other in front of one of their homes, or people knocking on each others’ doors to borrow a cup of sugar or some other household item.

This prompted the question – “Why?”

Could it have to do with how nice the weather is in Phoenix most of the time? (yes, we do hibernate in the summer but it’s pretty darn nice out for 9 months of the year) What about the fact that Arizona has one of the lowest percentages of natives? (think about the last time you found out someone was born here) Then you’ve got a decent amount of folks migrating here from the midwest and California – could that have something to do with it? Are we all just too busy to talk to our neighbors?

I’m no expert in human behavior & interaction, but it seems that the weather may have something to do with being disconnected from our neighbors.

Let’s look into this a bit further:

Think about places where the weather is pretty much awesome year-round. Of course these places tend to be on the coastlines – San Diego, Miami, Los Angeles. Mind you these are big cities just like Phoenix and the suburbs are probably better in the neighborly category, but would the average person know who their neighbors (even just 1 or 2 of them) are in terms of first names, what’s going on in their life, kids names, etc?

Probably not.

Everyone these days is busy raising a family, working full-time, trying to provide a living, so that can’t be the difference. What about technology & people being glued to their phones? Again, everyone has access to the same products & technology so that can’t be it.

Growing up here this was not an issue. My wife (who is also an Arizona native) remembers having all of her neighbors’ addresses and phone numbers hanging on the kitchen wall for easy access to everyone in the family. People knew their neighbors and kids played in the street. Because you knew your neighbors, you trusted your kids in the street. You knew your friends all “watched out for each other.”

Nothing against the above-mentioned cities because they are all great in their own way, but I believe the reason they aren’t considered neighborly has to do with the fact that there really is no need for them to know their neighbors. Typically you have no harsh weather or natural disasters to contend with, and thus do not need that kind of help or support network to assist if/when something weather-wise happens.

Those who live in the midwest have a better reputation for being neighborly.  Because of harsh shows, tornadoes, and other inclement weather, it’s important to get to know those around you because you never know when you’ll be in a bind and require help.

Do you think people are generally neighborly where you live? Comment below & let us know where you’re located.

 

 

 

About Negativity

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Was chatting with a friend of mine today who runs a successful Disney blog , about people. Share with him that I am in the process of being more active with my blog efforts, and wanted to know if he had any wisdom or words of advice. The conversation took a very interesting turn when he started discussing the kinds of people that read Disney blogs. The majority of them & their readership tend to have very negative slants and comments.

Could this be true?!

People that supposedly love what Disney stands for are attacking each other’s opinions and beliefs and Disney ideals? I couldn’t believe it.

Then I got to thinking about the pervading mentality of most people, and decided that is wasn’t so far-fetched. Most people are generally negative. What fascinates me is that the internet and social media tend to amplify one’s personality: if you are generally positive you may come across as being over-the-top on Facebook status updates, whereas if you are generally negative it seems as if everything is going to hell in a hand basket.

So why are people so negative?

Lots of reasons. To understand this we really have to delve into a psychological level overlooked and understood by most, but it’s really pretty simple. You see, where-ever you are in your life today is the total culmination of all of your experiences, but more importantly, your interpretations of those experiences, to date. And there isn’t much that you can say to change my mind about this truth.

The problem is that we rarely take the time to step outside of ourselves and look at our own behavior objectively. Although we have NO problem judging or criticizing others when there is an opinion that may conflict with our own.

So even if you deny it, there is no doubt that the sum total of all of your teachers, friends, parents, church leaders, classmates, colleagues, work associates, people that have spoken to large audiences, the media, your spouse, kids, and so on have brought you to become the person you are today.

Who are you hanging around on a consistent basis? Are they positive and affirming, or do they have an edge, a sarcastic side, and mostly find what is wrong with things?

I assure you this is not mean to be a motivational post, although if this does that for you, wonderful. Just an observation in people’s behavior in relation to who they are, what they have, and the impact and influence they have on other people.

So as I begin my journey of personal blogging, rest assured that I will never go down the road of negativity. First, life is too short to be negative – no one is getting out alive. And second, negativity has an insidious energy that eats away at all that is good. Do you remember the last time you felt energized? elated? on a life high? I do, and there are few feelings in this world that are better than that.

On the other end of that is feeling drained, defeated, tired, depressed – no one wants that yet there is so much of it in our world! And remember, although we live in a highly-negative world, you can create your own positive space within that world. A world is made up of individual people, that make their own choices and decisions as to how they wish to behave. Now most people don’t even realize they are being negative, they just say they are being realistic or something like that. It’s subconscious and lines the walls of our personality, so watch out!

What are your perceptions of people – do you believe that most people are good and helpful or constantly looking for how to cut down others so they can feel better about themselves? Please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

Battling Depression and Anxiety

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credit Anne Lowe on publicdomainpictures.net

Hearing the news of Robin Williams passing yesterday, which was most likely due to suicide, greatly impacted me.  As I watched countless updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram I found myself  disturbed, inspired, saddened, confused, and upset.

As the world paused to remember this great and wonderful man who entertained millions, I couldn’t help but to reflect back on some of my experiences dealing with depression and anxiety just a few years ago.

At times I recall it so vividly and it seems that I was a completely different person at the time. When reflecting back it was as if I could float outside of my body and observe how different the person I am today differed from the person I felt subjected to be at that time.

While many medical professionals (and the public for that matter) like to treat symptoms or the effects of an illness, I have always been of the belief that it’s best to take a look at the root cause and how to fix it. To take a look at what I believe the cause was, it’s best if you understand my personality.  I’m a pretty intense guy and I tend to feel lots of differently emotions on a daily basis, so I may be the type of person that has a proclivity towards being anxious or depressed. This intensity can also mean very high highs as well, aka the roller-coaster effect.

At the time I had a rough couple of months financially. I’ve always been on a commission-type of income, from waiting tables in college, to marketing financial services to selling real estate. It seemed my marketing efforts to find clients were not panning out. And despite having a fairly successful 3  years in real estate, it seemed that the business had dried up.

“…how different the person I am today differed from
the person I felt subjected to be at that time.”

Now my self-employed friends might be able to relate to this better than most, but when you feel like you aren’t providing for your family the way you could or should be doing, it messes with your head. Gradually over a period of time I kept feeding myself subconscious negative messages, which only compounded and grew in strength. I eventually got to the point where I was scared to take any positive action to generate business, because I somehow knew that it just wouldn’t work out.

I felt like the world was against me, when in reality the world
doesn’t really care what happens to you. It merely conforms
to your perception of it.

My thoughts were incoherent and scattered. I couldn’t put things together in my mind anymore in a way that made sense, and I actually found myself intently having to think about what I was going to say before I said it, even in simple conversations.

Simple daily tasks became formidable challenges which I felt hopeless to overcome. My brain built up anything I would normally do habitually into something that was the equivalent of moving a mountain.

There were memories of me waking up in the morning, looking up at the ceiling, wondering why I would even bother getting out of bed. When I came home from work each day all I wanted to do was get back into bed, shut my eyelids and hope things would get better, although there was no reason to believe they would. What was the point? No one cares anyways and my life doesn’t make any difference. More than once my thoughts drifted to the pistol in my bedroom and contemplated just ending it all.

What a pack of lies.

The depression and anxiety impaired my ability to be a good parent and husband. Although I wanted to be with my boys and wife, I wasn’t really able to be there 100% mentally because I constantly had these negative thoughts in the background trying to stomp out any personal joy I may have experienced.

In social settings I felt I had to wear a mask, because who wants to have a conversation with someone that is wallowing in a river of self-pity? Looking back, I think some people may have known what I was going through.  Because when you feel something internally it’s very difficult to hide those feelings from others, as they generate a certain type of energy.

So what turned it around for me? 

I knew this wasn’t going to be permanent (even though it felt like it would) and that I could pull out of it , but I needed help because whatever I was doing wasn’t working. Through my church I located a psychiatrist who was able to prescribe some medication that would help alleviate the intensity of my negative, crippling thoughts, and “stabilize” me more so that I wouldn’t keep creating a deeper downward spiral. The doctor said i had Generalized Anxiety. Gradually over time the prescription worked, and eventually I phased off of the medication completely.

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If you know me, you know how much I love movies and am always looking to relate life experiences to them.  It kind of felt like Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie “Limitless”. And how he used the thought-enhancing medication to improve for a period of time, and once he was in a place where he felt he was comfortable enough to manage himself again, he weened himself off of it.

Remember, it is never too late to get help. There is always hope. You can start by calling the Suicide Prevention LIfeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their site at  suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Have you had any experiences with anxiety or depression or know someone that has? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

 

 

What Draws People to Beaches?

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I’m currently on my family vacation in San Diego (and Carlsbad), and we have gone to 2 beaches over the last 2 days : Pacific State Beach and the Carlsbad State Beach. During this time I have had the opportunity to observe a large number other beach-goers and asked myself the question “what is it that draws people to beaches in droves?”

People love the beach. Bottom line. Some would literally live at the beach if they could. Being the curious sort of fellow I am, I just ask the question. Being a Realtor, it’s like asking the question “Why are beach-front homes so much more expensive than regular homes?”

The answer to this question lies in the attitudes and beliefs people hold towards being physically close to the water.

Perhaps there are restorative properties in beaches. Being close to the water may bring people back to a subconscious state of what it was like in their mother’s womb surrounded by water. There is comfort and wholeness in being close to or in the water, that cannot be duplicated in any other fashion.

Beaches calm us down and help us relax. In my experience the main reason people do things is because of the way it makes them feel. Think about it – we avoid pain and gravitate towards pleasure. This could be a blog post all by itself. People want more of things that bring them pleasure. Being at the beach relaxing and just being is a state people like to experience. Think about it – have you ever seen a stressed-out person hanging out at the beach?

Carlsbad State Beach, CA

Beaches give us perspective.  Going to a beach helps people see that they are part of a bigger picture and there is so much out there in the world. Vast , expansive oceans and lakes permit us see infinite and limitless possibility. At home most of us are surrounded by houses, buildings,  trees,  hills, mountains, and so on. There is always something to break up the horizon. I’m not stating this as a judgment, just as a fact. You can only see so far until the horizon is broken up by one of these things. Not so with beaches and oceans. They expand so far than it appears that you could literally see forever.

Beaches can be both powerful and frightening. Watching ocean waves immediately makes you realize how frail we human beings are in nature. An ocean can literally wipe out entire geographic areas, and topple massive ships. I believe there is some kind of deference people have towards large bodies of water, that they understand the  potential ramifications of beaches and oceans, and as a result find a deep respect for them.

Beaches are life. Specifically the body of water the beach extends to. The ocean’s ecosystem has so many different kinds of life, and I believe that at a subconscious level that essence of life seeps deeply into us.  Beaches are also life in that waves ebb and flow towards them, and regardless of what is happening around the beach, they will do so until the end of time. Life doesn’t stop until we do, much like the waves of the ocean.

Beaches have  a spiritual element to them. Being at a beach, sitting in front of such an awesome (and I don’t use that word lightly) creation helps people feel connected to God, or whatever higher entity they ascribe to. There’s something to be said for being alone, or with someone close to you, on a beach, and just feeling that connection, that draw, towards something bigger than yourself. A deeper level of satisfaction is achieved, and a sweeping sense of awe overwhelms your soul.

What do YOU think draws people to beaches? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.