Doc Talk

Doc Talk: Ten F’s and the Dash

The Ten “Fs” for Success: Maximizing Quantity & Quality of Your Life

By Gordon Graham, First Responder Prevention Expert

FAITH: Believe in a higher power. 

FAMILY: Take care of your family-always

FRIENDS: Friends and Acquaintances. Having 2 or 3 great friends who will always be on your side is fantastic. 

FITNESS: Keep yourself in shape – just walking an hour a day is wonderful. Regular MD visits – even if you are feeling great. Mental and physical concerns – take care of yourself. 

FOOD: Everything in moderation. General Rule: If your grandmother would not recognize it – don’t eat it. 

FUN: Laugh a lot. There are a lot of benefits to being happy and laughing a lot. 

FUNDS: Financial planning early on and try to retire debt free. 

FREEDOM: Be grateful you are here in the United States of America. Protect the freedoms that so many have died for over the centuries. 

FUTURE: Time flies by quickly – strategic thinking is essential. 

FULLFILMENT: Make everyday count. Make every contact count. Be humble – it is not all about you. You get the opportunity every day to make a difference in someone’s life. 

Also take a look at “The Dash” poem by Linda Ellis. 

https://thedashpoem.com/wp-content/uploads/Dash-Poem-Printable.pdf

Doc Talk: 5 Love Languages

5 Love Languages

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” 

Mother Teresa

How are your relationships away from work? Sometimes the things that are manageable in the good times, can fracture when things get tough. You try and try to be “that guy or gal” at home but something seems to get lost in translation.

See the Love Language chart and take the short quiz via the below listed link. Have your significant other do the same and find out how you both love to be loved. There are quizzes for kids and singles too! Then start or dial up giving your love the way they want it given.

https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/

Doc Talk: Anxiety

The anxiety spiral and ways to thrive. Take two minutes to watch a trailer of Oprah Winfrey interviewing four powerful experts; John Kabat-Zinn, Brene Brown, Michael Singer, and Eckhart Tolle, on taking control over anxiety.

Also, and consider subscribing to the Focus Psychological Services YouTube Channel.

Doc Talk: A Better You

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” 

Dr. Jordan Peterson

This quote encourages us to look for ways to better ourselves each day. No need for major changes; just small positive steps forward. So, ask yourself, “How can I be just a little bit better than I was yesterday?” That can be stronger, kinder, smarter, faster or more loving. At the end of 2020, where do you want to be in your life? Start that journey today.

Take a look at a montage of Dr. Peterson interviews, speeches and classroom presentations for thought provoking and inspiring messages. 

Doc Talk: Being Vulnerable

Being Vulnerable

Often, First Responders have no control over outcomes though they wish it otherwise.

Check out Brene′ Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability and perhaps be surprised by the power of being vulnerable.

Doc Talk: Biases

In America today, it appears we are separated by gender, religion, race, politics and other sensitive factors. Voices strain, and tempers boil over. Words and deeds inflict injuries on strangers and friends alike. Even your stations and homes are sometimes not safe havens. 

Under anger, there is normally some type of fear; fear of shame, worthlessness, loneliness, failure, abandonment, helplessness.

These fears come may stem in part from unconscious biases. Some biases that don’t come immediately to mind but may resonate with you are: 

  • Confirmation Bias-You favor things that confirm your existing beliefs.
  • Backfire Bias/Effect-When some aspect of your core beliefs is challenged, it can cause you to believe in it even more strongly
  • Belief Bias-If a conclusion supports your existing beliefs, you'll rationalize anything that supports it
  • Just-world Bias/Hypothesis-Your preference for justice makes you presume it exists.

Check out 24 biases at the below listed website:

 

www.yourbias.is

What would happen if we listened more to what is under the anger? Know your biases, become more aware of the triggers that cause the fear to make you angry.

And listen; whether it is a loved one or co-worker. Listen.

Doc Talk: Big 5 Skill from the British Army

The “Big 5 Skills” for mental resilience. Brought to you by our cousins across the pond. 

  1. Negative vs. positive thinking
  2. Emotional Control
  3. Mental rehearsal and positive imagery 
  4. Physiological regulation (breathing)
  5. Goal setting

Your mind is powerful; you get to decide how you use it.

Doc Talk: Box Breathing

Imagine you are responding to a critical incident, driving Code 3, waiting to be interviewed for a promotion, or having a tough conversation with a spouse or loved one. If you could step outside yourself for a moment, you might notice your heart rate is up and your breathing is fast and shallow. You’re about to go into a potentially life-threatening situation and/or make potentially life-changing decisions in a physical state known as “fight or flight”.

The “fight or flight” state is excellent for immediate survival but can limit cognitive thinking and the ability to make rational long term decisions. Box breathing is a simple and effective way to help reduce the effects of fight or flight when faced with stressful situations.

Here is how it works:

  • Breathe in through your nose for a count of four seconds
  • Hold your breath for a count of four seconds
  • Breathe out through your mouth for a count of four seconds
  • Hold your breath for a count of four seconds 
  • Repeat for a total of 3 breaths

You can use this technique both to calm yourself when you feel anxious and to routinely “reset” during the day.

This type of breathing oxygenates your blood more efficiently compared to quick shallow breathes. It also focuses you on the present moment and situation. It directly acts on your autonomic nervous system and begins to bring your body out of, or lower, the “flight and fight” feeling. This enables you to employ more of your cognitive faculties and make better decisions. “Calm your body. Calm your mind.”

Several websites and articles recommend sitting upright and relaxed in a calm, safe place do this exercise. That is not always possible in the public safety arena. Employ box breathing anytime you are feeling stressed in any situation. And, as an extra bonus, no one even needs to know you are doing it. Breathe, just breathe with focus.



https://gearpatrol.com/2018/12/24/box-breathing-navy-seals/

https://www.healthline.com/health/box-breathing

https://www.livestrong.com 

https://ufh-gatorcare.sites.medinfo.ufl.edu/files/2015/04/Box-Breath.pdf

https://www.healthline.com/health/box-breathing#benefits

Doc Talk: Change

Things are continuing to change. This is a reminder to believe in yourself that you will get through these times. Period. No matter how hard things get, you are strong enough to strive and thrive through this. Think of the times in your life when you faced adversity and how you powered through. You’ve got this! Beneficial personal activities you and your family can participate in that can help accomplish this effort include:

  • Stay mindful, which is self-regulation in the moment with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance
  • Recognize that everyone manages stress in different ways. Be patient with each other.
  • Talk to your crew about what they and their families are doing and find “best practices” for you and your family
  • Increase positive communication with family members, friends and squad/crew 
  • Regular exercise, walking your dog, ensuring to follow county/state guidelines
  • Healthy eating and drinking plenty of water
    • Find new and interesting recipes to try
    • Minimize alcohol intake
    • Alcohol is a depressant and is never a good long-term stand-alone coping technique 
  • Establish and maintain a routine and schedule for adults and children
    • Going to bed, waking up at the same time, chores, schoolwork, and projects 
  • Seek humor, memes, jokes, sitcoms, Netflix, Google, YouTube
    • Americans are amazingly creative
    • Think and act upon what you CAN do in this current situation


Focus is here to support you and your families. We encourage you to visit the Focus website at www.focuspsychservices.com. You will find information and resources to assist you. To schedule a session, follow the prompts on the website or call 858-565-0066.

Doc Talk: Change and Opportunity

The only constant is change. Find the opportunities in any adversity. 

Every day have the courage to “roll” with what life presents you and your family.

Find the drive to stretch outside your comfort zone. 

Recognized what you want “dial” up or “dial” down in your life. Practice that. Daily.

So how do we cope? How do we thrive?

Read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning about his time in a concentration camp and what he described as “tragic optimism.” 

Research the Stockdale Paradox which was brought to forefront by author Jim Collins in Good to Great. James Stockdale, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for seven years faced his harsh reality with faith that he would prevail.

Think of the hardships you, your crew/squad, and your family have overcome. Take each moment, every day, eyes wide open to the reality and know, believe, and have faith that you and yours will get through the hard times; always.

"Knowledge is love and light and vision." Helen Keller (A woman who was deaf and blind yet is remembered for her strength of character and tenacity). 

The only constant is change. Find the opportunities in any adversity. 

Every day have the courage to “roll” with what life presents you and your family.

Find the drive to stretch outside your comfort zone. 

Recognized what you want “dial” up or “dial” down in your life. Practice that. Daily.

So how do we cope? How do we thrive?

Read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning about his time in a concentration camp and what he described as “tragic optimism.” 

Research the Stockdale Paradox which was brought to forefront by author Jim Collins in Good to Great. James Stockdale, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for seven years faced his harsh reality with faith that he would prevail.

Think of the hardships you, your crew/squad, and your family have overcome. Take each moment, every day, eyes wide open to the reality and know, believe, and have faith that you and yours will get through the hard times; always.

"Knowledge is love and light and vision." Helen Keller (A woman who was deaf and blind yet is remembered for her strength of character and tenacity). 

Doc Talk: Compassion Fatigue

com·pas·sion fa·tigue

noun

  1. indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals.

It is real and it is out there. Take a moment to check out this article and take the test.

Compassion fatigue used to be a problem that was most commonly seen among health care professionals. Because their work puts them in situations where they commonly see or hear about ongoing and sometimes unspeakable suffering, it is not unusual to see some of our most skilled, caring, and compassionate "helpers" fall victim to compassion fatigue. However, in today's world, where every tragedy is instantly broadcast live in living color directly into our living rooms (TV), laps (laptop), and/or hands (smartphone), compassion fatigue is no longer unique to certain professions. As Dr. Amit Sood points out in his book, The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, "... we are inundated with graphic images of the unimaginable suffering of millions. We can fathom the suffering of a few, but a million becomes a statistic that numbs us."

Signs of compassion fatigue include:

  • Feeling burdened by the suffering of others
  • Blaming others for their suffering
  • Isolating yourself
  • Loss of pleasure in life
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Bottling up your emotions
  • Increased nightmares
  • Feelings of hopelessness or powerlessness
  • Frequent complaining about your work or your life
  • Overeating
  • Excessive use of drugs or alcohol
  • Poor self-care
  • Beginning to receive a lot of complaints about your work or attitude
  • Denial

In fact, according to the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, "denial is one of the most detrimental symptoms" because it prevents those who are experiencing compassion fatigue from accurately assessing how fatigued and stressed they actually are, which prevents them from seeking help.

To see where you fall on the compassion satisfaction/fatigue continuum, take the Professional Quality of Life (PROQOL) questionnaire, which was developed by Dr. Beth Hundall Stamm, one of the world's leading experts on compassion fatigue. In addition to English, the PROQOL has been translated into 17 different languages, all of which can be found here. Although the measure was originally developed for professional "helpers," it can provide important feedback about compassion fatigue, burnout, and life stress for anyone who spends a good deal of time helping others.

If it turns out that you scored high on the compassion fatigue scale (or any of the others), there is hope. Like burnout or any other stress-related condition, compassion fatigue is not terminal, but it certainly can impact the quality of your life, and awareness is the first step to recovery. Dr. Stamm explains that through awareness and healthy self-care, those who experience compassion fatigue can start to understand the complexity of the emotions they've been "juggling and, most likely, suppressing." 

For those who find themselves in the throes of compassion fatigue, she recommends the following:

  • Enhance your awareness with education
  • Accept where you are on your path at all times
  • Exchange information and feelings with people who can validate you
  • Clarify your personal boundaries—what works for you and what doesn't
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Express what you need verbally, and
  • Take positive action to change your environment.

If your compassion fatigue score is low or average, that's good news, but it's important to take measures to protect yourself. 

To help prevent compassion fatigue, Dr. Sood recommends:

  • Limit the amount of daily news you watch or read about
  • Try to comes to terms with the fact that pain and suffering are realities of life over which we have little or no control
  • Be grateful for what is good in your life and in the world
  • Try to find some meaning in the suffering you see
  • If you must blame something, blame the situation, not the person
  • Show compassion to yourself by being kind, soothing, and comforting to yourself

Citing research from the University of Michigan and the University of Rochester Medical Center that found that compared to the late 1970s, empathy among students has declined by more than 40 percent, Dr. Sood says that we live in a world that desperately needs more compassion. 

So, the last thing we need is for those who are most adept at giving and showing compassion to lose that gift to something completely avoidable. By being aware of the warning signs of compassion fatigue, you can prevent it and continue to do what you do best—change lives for the better with one act of kindness at a time.

http://www.compassionfatigue.org/pages/RunningOnEmpty.pdf

Doc Talk: Critical Incident Responses

A recent child drowning reminds us that even in this Covid-19 driven environment, critical incidents are taking place on a near daily basis.

Emergency First responders have a job to do at these scenes and can normally tolerate/compartmentalize their thoughts and feelings. Untrained citizens would likely freeze or emotionally breakdown.

However, as soon as it is safe, one of the healthiest ways to manage these events is to talk about them with your crew, a trusted spiritual leader or a friend or family member who can bear listening. Express any thoughts or feelings of being sad, fearful, angry or out of control/helpless. A burden shared is a burden lightened.

See the following page for the information Focus gives out during critical incident defusings and debriefings.

Psychological Response to a Traumatic Incident

Your Response is Normal and Typical

Individual responses to a traumatic incident, be it a pediatric death, stabbing or shooting, burn victim, suicide, or a particularly gruesome vehicle collision, can vary greatly. It is, however, important to understand that problematic and disturbing feelings, thoughts and behaviors can be normal responses to these “abnormal” experiences (First Responders may often experience these events but they are still abnormal). They may occur immediately after the event or manifest themselves in the weeks or months following an incident.

Hopefully the information provided on this form will prepare you for what you may experience if you are ever involved in a traumatic incident. Forewarned is forearmed. 

Unfamiliar and Distressing Feelings, Thoughts, and Behaviors Can Be:

  • Increased overall fear or fear of unfamiliar people and places
  • Sleep disturbance and nightmares 
  • Loss or increase in appetite
  • Irritability and anger
  • Increased anxiety
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Depressive thoughts
  • Apathy or decreased pleasure in daily activities
  • Reliving or ruminating on the event 
  • Obsessively watching, reading or listening to coverage on the incident

Tips on Managing Negative Symptoms: 

  • Recognize you are not going “crazy”
  • Talk with others who experienced the same incident
  • Eat healthy
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Exercise
  • Get good sleep when possible
  • Communicate with friends and loved ones and ask for their support
  • Maintain normal life activities and current hobbies
  • Seek out help from a trusted spiritual leader at your place of worship
  • Contact Peer Support, a chaplain, or mental health professional if negative symptoms persist or anytime you need to talk or ask a question.

Remember, there is help. You do not need to suffer alone. You can move past a troubling critical incident and continue to live a healthy and rewarding life.

Doc Talk: Divorce Signs

California attorneys report a recent uptick in divorce calls in the last year.

Marriage expert, Dr. John Gottman describes criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”, i.e. divorce.

View the attached animated video for a brief description of each “horsemen” and pathways to avoid divorce. 

Also, check out the Dr. Gottman’s book, “Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work” for a more detailed look at the concepts in the video.

Doc Talk: Emotional Contagion

Emotional Contagion

Your emotional state can have an effect, negative or positive on those around you. And, the higher in rank or informal leadership status, the more you can make a difference.

Check out this video on emotional contagion. 

Doc Talk: Face Forward

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility of our future.” 

George Bernard Shaw

Learn from the past, live in the moment, and lean forward into the future. 

Click on this inspirational video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzfREEPbUsA

Doc Talk: Fighting Fair

Your marriage/relationship may have suffered due to the stressors in 2020. Start the new year forearmed with information that can help improve the bond with your partner.

Click on the link below for simple and effective relationship do’s and don’ts.

https://www.foryourmarriage.org/25-ways-to-fight-fair/

Though this information is not comprehensive, it will give you a place to start in building your best marriage or relationship in 2021.

Also, think about subscribing to the Focus Psychological Services YouTube channel.

Doc Talk: Forgiveness

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Lewis B. Smedes

The attached YouTube clip is a story about the journey to forgiveness from a woman who attempts to forgive the man who killed her family. A truly engaging story. 

Who keeps you up at night? Who causes your teeth to grind, temper to swell, and fists to clench? Who is living rent free in your head?

The Covid-19 pandemic may have, and still be continuing to injure relationships and helped to form hard feelings toward one another. Watch the video clip for a different perspective.

Doc Talk: Habits

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." 

Helen Keller

Focus has been seeing an increase in clients. First the initial pandemic and its residual effects, violent social unrest, continued pandemic variations and social divides. Folks reaching out are looking to change something about themselves, their family, or their lives. Changes are typically not easy but can be simple and effective when practiced. 

Dr. Wayne Dyer suggests 13 habits to what he describes as Mastering the Art of Getting What You Want. Some of the habits are spiritual in nature and others are more concrete. Here are a few examples: 

  • Become the observer of your thoughts
  • Reconstructing your ‘I am’ statements
  • Release your imagination from current limiting circumstances
  • Know what you already have is enough

Check out the full 13 habits on the link below to provide ideas for further exploration.

https://www.drwaynedyer.com/blog/manifesting-101-mastering-the-art-of-getting-what-you-want/

Doc Talk: Happiness

Happiness

Happy: 1. Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

  • having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or

situation). 

Researcher Matt Killingsworth, in his TedTalk, Track Your Happiness, observes people’s 

day-to-day activities to provide insight into happiness. How do we apply this to our own lives? 

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_killingsworth_want_to_be_happier_stay_in_the_moment?language=en

Also, check out Focus’ YouTube channel for other videos you may find interesting and valuable.

Doc Talk: Hardiness

The three C’s of Hardiness: Challenge, Control, and Commitment.

Challenge: Recognize life is change that it can be positive. 

Control: Believe you can make a difference. 

Commitment: Interest in the people and activities in your life.

Check out this short YouTube video on Hardiness: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqHzywWKZy4

Check out this short article on Hardiness: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201208/are-you-hardy-enough

Subscribe to the Focus Psychological Services YouTube channel.

Doc Talk: Healthy Living

One of the first step towards emotional wellness is to confront the facts, no matter how frightening or uncomfortable. Things change, sometimes daily. With that information, have the faith in yourself and those around you that you will get through any challenge come out the other side. Most importantly, believe that no matter how hard things get, you are strong enough to navigate these changes, and help your family get through this.

Beneficial personal activities you and your family can participate in that can help accomplish this effort include:

  • Healthy eating and hydration. Minimize alcohol intake
  • Establish and maintain a routine and schedule for adults and children
  • Regular exercise, including outdoor activities, as governmental guidance allows
  • Increase positive communication with family members and friends
  • Stay mindful, which is self-regulation in the moment with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.
  • Think and act upon what you CAN do in this current situation

 

Remember, you are not alone. Contact your Peer Supporters, Chaplains or Focus for help.

Doc Talk: Humor

“What makes people resilient is the ability to find humor and irony in situations that would otherwise overpower you.” Amy Tan (author of The Joy Luck Club) 

Humor, in addition to exercise, mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude can provide amazing strength in challenging times. 

Check out the following humorous and thoughtful attached video and article.

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Apvpl_O2b4U

Article: 

https://amydeespeaker.com/2020/08/20/use-humor-to-make-you-more-resilient/

Doc Talk: Kindness

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” - Mark Twain

Check out this brief video on the full circle of kindness.

Also, please subscribe to the Focus YouTube channel for more in-depth videos to build resilience for yourself, your family and your squads/crews.

Doc Talk: Let the Past Go

“Let go… How would your life be different if you learned to let go of things that have already let go of you? From relationships long gone, to old grudges, to regrets, to all the ‘could’ve’ and ‘should’ve,’ to the dead friendships you still hang on to…Free yourself from the burden of the past you cannot change.” Dr. Steve Maraboli

Please view this Absolute Motivation video: Let Go of the Past 

Also, for more detailed information click on this Tony Robbins’ article on eight tips to help you let go.

https://www.tonyrobbins.com/mind-meaning/let-go-past/

Doc Talk: Letting Go

“Let go… How would your life be different if you learned to let go of things that have already let go of you? From relationships long gone, to old grudges, to regrets, to all the ‘could’ve’ and ‘should’ve,’ to the dead friendships you still hang on to…Free yourself from the burden of the past you cannot change.” Dr. Steve Maraboli

Please view this Absolute Motivation video: Let Go of the Past 

Also, for more detailed information click on this Tony Robbins’ article on eight tips to help you let go.

https://www.tonyrobbins.com/mind-meaning/let-go-past/

Doc Talk: Life’s Changes

What are we doing to move with life’s changes?

New or dust off old enjoyable hobbies

  • Music: dancing to, singing with, or enjoy listening 
  • Gardening: pulling weeds to growing food
  • Writing: thoughts, dreams, memories
  • Pets: petting, walking, playing
  • Friends and family: call, text, skype, Zoom-get and stay connected
  • Exercise: daily, easy, moderate, intense, anabolic, aerobic-your choice- “Just do it” 




Check out the Focus Psychological Services YouTube channel for in-depth videos on various and valuable topics. Remember to subscribe.

Doc Talk: Meditation

An online mediation company (Ten Percent Happier) co-founder, Dan Harris, related overhearing his wife recently telling a friend of hers that he, “was less of an [jerk] after starting his [mediation] practice.” (Meditation, in baby steps, apparently can also help those around us in a less than is “Zen” manner.)

Meditation and mindfulness help keep us focused on the here and now; really the only place and time we can do something. Notice the difference. 

Find apps that are free or reduced rates for first responders and share them with your crew.

Circling back to IAFF’s guide to managing Covid-19 Anxiety; great common-sense tips and suggestions for you and your family. 

https://www.iaffrecoverycenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Managing-Coronavirus-Anxiety.pdf

Doc Talk: Meditation and the Gap

"Pay attention to the gap - the gap between two thoughts, the brief, silent space between words in a conversation, between the notes of a piano or flute, or the gap between the in-breath & the out-breath. When you pay attention to those gaps, awareness of 'something' becomes - just awareness. -Eckhart Tolle

One way to develop more peace and resilience in your life is through meditation. There are several ways to meditate. Check out for yourself the Healthline article about nine different, yet similar, ways to meditate. 

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/types-of-meditation#overview

Also, subscribe to the Focus Psychological Services YouTube channel for thought provoking and inspirational videos.

Doc Talk On Marriage

Dr. Michael McNulty, with his 25 years of experience in counseling, relates that couples wait an average of six years after problems start in their marriage/relationship before doing something about it.

This is not just about going to couples counseling. Couples can do positive things for their relationship at home.

Dr. John Gottman and his wife Dr. Julie Gottman are experts in the field of couples counseling. Dr. Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work has some valuable information and exercises you can use at home. 

https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Principles-Making-Marriage-Work/dp/0609805797

Mark Gungor on Women’s and Men’s brains. Knowing, generally, that each half of the couple thinks differently about things can be helpful and allow you to give your mate more grace and kindness.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQJTbCAAc6w

Active and healthy communication is key. If you like the clip, then watch the full event on YouTube. Remember, no two people are the same so take what is valuable from what you read and watch an let the rest go.

Doc Talk: Perseverance

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

  • Perseverance-It is habit forming!
  • It can take from two to eight months to create and maintain a habit. Missing a day does not bring you back to the square one. Give yourself grace, then then once more, do it.
  • Where do you want to be in two months? At the beginning of next year?
  • The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best…today.

The video link is sports centric but notice how the words can be applied to anything in our lives that is valuable for us and those in our circle.

Doc Talk: Radical Acceptance

Imagine seeing it rain and getting angry you are might get wet. “It can’t be raining today,” you say, “It’s my daughter’s garden wedding,” or “my annual backyard barbeque” or “it’s not right, I had plans!” 

Radical acceptance does not mean you agree what is happening or even like it. It is accepting with your entire mind, body and spirit, the reality of how things are right now. Acceptance leads to growth and the ability to do something about what is happening now.

“Radical Acceptance is the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.” 
― Tara Brach

Check out Dr. Mark Foreman’s latest video, Radical Acceptance, at Focus’ YouTube Channel. Though the title includes law enforcement, this video is of interest to all first responders and may be a springboard to further reflection and study.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-XAxpD5Cic

Check out the other videos on the Focus YouTube channel and don’t to forget to subscribe.

Doc Talk: Relationship Issues

Focus Psychological Services continues to see an uptick in couples and family counseling requests. Focus is here to help. 

There are also proactive skills to develop and well-known behaviors to avoid. Knowing these skills and behaviors will aid you with your interpersonal interactions. Checkout the below listed websites for more information. (Note: The information is best used to learn more about yourself and not to point out where the other person needs to improve.) 

https://www.workingresources.com/articles/dirty-fighting-techniques.html

https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-four-horsemen-the-antidotes/

Also check out Focus’ YouTube channel for their latest video titled Resilience: Bouncing Back from Adversity featuring Focus’ Chief Psychologist Dr. Jolee Brunton. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_xBQQ2kMok

Doc Talk: Resilience

WHAT IS RESILIENCE?

Resilience is a person’s ability to recover quickly from disruptive or painful changes without being overwhelmed or acting in a dysfunctional or harmful way.

Outside Stress

  • Over the course of an emergency 1st responder career, you are exposed to a full continuum of human suffering. The cumulative exposure of both acute and chronic trauma can degrade a 1st responder’s resiliency.

Inside Stress

  • Department struggles in their various forms.

WHAT TO DO, RESILIENCY TRAINING

Body/Physical Fitness

  • Consistent moderate to intense workouts. 
  • “Box Breathing” and deep breathing techniques are ways to help regulate physiological stress response.
  • Noticing discomfort and/or tightness in one’s body and, with intent relaxing the body to remain in parasympathetic nervous system dominance.

Mental 

  • Psychoeducation about the psychological and physiological aspects of extreme stress and potential trauma. 
  • YouTube: Focus Psychological Services Channel
  • Google “resiliency” and research different ways this topic is addressed

Spirit

  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Spiritual beliefs (something bigger than yourself)

Home/Relationships

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Hobbies (continue or start doing the “Used to”; things that bring you enjoyment

BENEFITS 

  • Better control of immediate stress reactions
  • Reduced anger and sadness
  • Better physical endurance and improved sleep
  • Better interpersonal relationships/interactions 
  • Increased peacefulness and contentedness 
  • Increased confidence under current and future stressful situations
  • Quicker rebound after stressful incidents

Doc Talk: Right Now

What can we do, right now, when we are having a tough time? 

  • Breath: long and deep or box breathing (4 seconds in, 4 hold, 4 out, 4 nothing, repeat) 
  • Meditation, mindfulness, visualization, relaxation techniques 
  • View motivational videos or read motivational books
  • Look around and name five objects near you. Rub hands together or shuffle feet on floor. keeps you in the here and now instead of the “what if” or “what was”
  • Self-talk: 
    • “Right now, this is how I am feeling/thinking, right now. It will pass.”
    • Notice any tightness in your body and say “Relax”-helps the move from fight/flight to calm.
    • Ask yourself, “What can I do right now.” Helps to avoid catastrophizing
  • Humor: Google jokes, YouTube comedies, tell funny family stories, smile and laugh
  • Move or take an assertive posture-walk, stand up straight or fists on hips

Check out the Focus Psychological Services YouTube channel for in-depth videos on various and valuable topics. Remember to subscribe.

Doc Talk: Self Motivation

Self-Motivation is important for emergency first responders and their families. Here are three questions to ask yourself: 

  1. Can I do it?
  2. Will it work? 
  3. Is it worth it? 

Check out the attached TED Talk by Scott Geller:

Doc Talk: The Child-Centered Family Is Hurting Our children

By Pastor Rick McDaniel

I recently wrote an op-ed about sexless marriages. How when a couple has a child-centered marriage rather than a couple-centered marriage their relationship suffers, especially their sex life. But that is only half the story for the family. The other half is how the children are negatively impacted by a child-centered family. Not only are marriages hurt but it also does the children no favors in preparing them for life.

The worst outcome for a family is to experience divorce and the best way to prevent divorce is to prioritize and focus on the marriage. Parents need to pay more attention to the marriage than to the children. 

The child-centered home surfaced in the early 1980s. Boomer parents decided that their kids were going to get all the stuff they didn’t. And this focus hasn’t stopped since. In fact, it’s increased.

Moms and dads center their home around the children, especially their academics and athletics. Kids grow up overprotected, overindulged and as the center of their parents’ world. It should not be surprising then that we would have a college admissions scandal where parents are paying to get their kids into an elite college. This is the natural outcome of the child-centered family. If the kids can’t earn it on their own then we will pay someone to do it for them.

Parents should have a clear goal in their parenting: raising self-sufficient, independent adults. The entire time they are parenting they are working themselves out of a job. Their focus is to raise their children to go out and meet the challenges of life.

The child-centered family gives children way too much and requires way too little. The result is prolonged adolescence and delayed maturation. The milestones to adulthood are not met in a natural fashion. Children should be transitioning from childhood to adulthood, from privilege to responsibility but they’re not.

A perfect example is driver’s licenses. I grew up in Connecticut where you could get your driver’s license the day you turned 16. I was at the DMV on my birthday to get my license and couldn’t wait to drive and experience this seminal rite of passage into adulthood.

A driver’s license marked the transition from childhood and dependence to adult responsibility and freedom. But according to the Federal Highway Administration, last year the percentage of American 16-year-olds with driver’s licenses was 24.5 percent, a massive drop from 46.2 percent in 1983.

This is a remarkable development. From almost half having a license to now only one-quarter of 16-year-olds driving. And the timeline is exactly in keeping with the shift to child-centered homes.

A young person may think: why drive when mom can chauffeur me everywhere I need to go? Why deal with the challenges of driving, parking and obeying traffic laws when my parents can get me an Uber? Why learn about car maintenance and costs when dad can take care of it all for me?

This is the result of an entitlement mentality. And it is more than just a driver’s licenses. When the children are the focus their wants are confused for their needs. They grow up expecting to get what they want. When they don’t the parent will talk to the teacher, coach or whoever else is keeping their child from happiness.

Other traditional milestones of adulthood are also not being met in a timely manner. Leaving home, finishing college or vocational training, finding a job, getting married and having kids. Until the 1980s these milestones were completed in a fairly short period of time. Now they can take 10 to 20 years to be completed.

The worst outcome for a family is to experience divorce and the best way to prevent divorce is to prioritize and focus on the marriage. Parents need to pay more attention to the marriage than to the children.

Parents should have a clear goal in their parenting: raising self-sufficient, independent adults. The entire time they are parenting they are working themselves out of a job. Their focus is to raise their children to go out and meet the challenges of life.

The mission of any parent is to produce a resilient child who becomes a mature adult who can deal with the hardships and problems of life. The classic definition of maturity is the ability to delay gratification and the ability to tolerate frustration.

This combination creates a mentally healthy, mature adult. A parent raises their child to understand some gratification has to be delayed. They teach their child to understand they will have to tolerate the frustrations of life. And help them to realize the world does not revolve around them.

When children are raised to be independent they can seek out life’s adventures. They can graduate from adolescence not prolong it. They can embrace the responsibility necessary to be successful in life.

Doc Talk: The Sexless Marriage

By Pastor Rick McDaniel

Would it surprise you that according to Data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz “sexless marriage” is one of the most Googled phrases when it comes to marriage issues in America? Sex therapist Dr. Ian Keller says, “Sexless relationships are the number one issue I deal with, particularly in couples over forty.”

A sexless marriage is not easily defined. Some experts say a couple that has sex less than nine times a year is sexless. Certainly, if you are married and never have sex that would be sexless. Most couples know if they are in a sexless marriage. But is marriage all about sex anyway? No, but sex is called the act of marriage. Sex connects a couple in more than just a physical sense. It bonds them together in a very special fashion. Sex brings a closeness and even a healing to a marital relationship like nothing else can do.

There are many possible causes for a sexless marriage. It could be poor health or illness, weight gain and body issues, tiredness and fatigue or anger and resentment. Most of these can be addressed as symptoms. Health can be improved, weight can be lost, schedules can be changed, forgiveness can be given.

But there is a more systemic cause especially with couples who are parents. My experience talking with couples whose sex lives fade is that it can come down to the children. A husband and wife choose, sometimes unwittingly, to have a child-centered rather than a couple-centered marriage.

The difference is huge. Over the last 20 or 30 years, there has been a shift in parenting. Parents are more intentional in their parenting. And dads have become much more involved. There are a lot of positives from this shift in parental commitment.

When I grew up my dad and mom loved me and raised me right. They gave me the foundation for a successful life. But their lives did not revolve around me or my sister. I’ve told my boys many times how little they attended my games even though I was a three-sport athlete. They can’t believe that my folks hardly ever showed up for any of my games over many years of athletics. Today that would hardly ever happen.

Now parents are much more involved and this is good. But the marriage can become all about the kids. Their activities, their needs, and their wants are the center of the family. Mom and dad put their needs second to the children.

When parents put the kids before their marriage it leads to problems. A wife could simply not feel the same need for connection with her husband because of all her focus on the kids. A husband could spend so much time with the children that combined with his other responsibilities he is too tired for sex.

In a couple-centered marriage, a husband and wife put the marriage first. They recognize the obvious, the marriage existed before the children arrived and will exist after the children grow up and leave.

A couple loves and cares for their children. They meet their needs and some of their wants. They support the kids in various activities. But they do not sacrifice their marriage for the children. When a choice must be made they choose to put the marriage above the children.

And those decisions will come. Will we go out on a date night or chaperone the kids to one of their endless activities? Will we take a weekend away or will we stay home so we don’t miss even one of their games? Will we send the kids to bed and close our bedroom door or will we leave the door open and allow them to invade our privacy?

When parents put the kids before their marriage it leads to problems. A wife could simply not feel the same need for connection with her husband because of all her focus on the kids. A husband could spend so much time with the children that combined with his other responsibilities he is too tired for sex.

In the hectic nature of today’s family life, the key to sexual intimacy may be planning. When busy parents set a date for lovemaking they can look forward to their time together.

God invented sex. His desire is for married couples to enjoy it. A marriage without sex is not a true marriage. 

Children are a blessing from God. They need to be parented well. But parenting can never come at the expense of the marriage.

There is a better way. Put your marriage first.

Doc Talk: Under the Anger

When you feel anger (contempt, resentment, frustration, annoyance) and start to feel the tightness and/or heat in your chest, that can be your sympathetic nervous system firing up over perceived danger. This amazing system is perfect for running from a saber-toothed tiger or hand to hand life or death combat; actual danger. It is, however, unnecessary in the best of times and often counterproductive when there is no actual physical danger. (Think of your last heated argument with your significant other or co-worker.)

Practice box or deep breathing to keep yourself in that clear thinking parasympathetic nervous system dominate state. Also consider subscribing to Focus’ YouTube channel for additional mediation and relaxation skills and associated videos.

Doc Talk: Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl’s book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, is about finding meaning in one’s life. This book is short but powerful.

Check out this brief summary of the book in the link below.

Doc Talk: What Can You Do Now

What can we do, right now, when we are having a tough time? 

  • Breath: long and deep or box breathing (4 seconds in, 4 hold, 4 out, 4 nothing, repeat) 
  • Meditation, mindfulness, visualization, relaxation techniques 
  • View motivational videos or read motivational books
  • Look around and name five objects near you. Rub hands together or shuffle feet on floor. keeps you in the here and now instead of the “what if” or “what was”
  • Self-talk: 
    • “Right now, this is how I am feeling/thinking, right now. It will pass.”
    • Notice any tightness in your body and say “Relax”-helps the move from fight/flight to calm.
    • Ask yourself, “What can I do right now.” Helps to avoid catastrophizing
  • Humor: Google jokes, YouTube comedies, tell funny family stories, smile and laugh
  • Move or take an assertive posture-walk, stand up straight or fists on hips

Check out the Focus Psychological Services YouTube channel for in-depth videos on various and valuable topics. Remember to subscribe.

Doc Talk: What Really Matters

davidji is a globally recognized mind/body health & wellness expert, mindful performance trainer, meditation teacher and author. Check out his free worksheet for you to determine what really matters in your life.

What Really Matters 

As you reflect on the answers to these questions, you’ll probably go back in time to some challenging decisions. And if you proceeded thoughtfully, and take your time, you may even learn something about yourself. This process might spark some emotions. This is good. Remember, we want to explore our choices from the level of the heart not the head. So now may be the time for tears, but it’s definitely not the time for judgment! Now is the time to celebrate your courage for going into some scary dark places on the journey to discover your soul. 

What are the five most defining moments I have had over the past three years (good and bad)? These are the moments where you made a choice or one was made for you that set you in a specific direction and started to define your thoughts, words, and actions. 

  1. 2. 3. 

What are the three most positive relationships I have intentionally entered into over the course of my life? And what three traits do I admire in each of those relationships? 

Relationship Trait 1 Trait 2 Trait 3 

  1. 2. 3. 

What are the three most important decisions I have made in my life that led to what I consider successes or accomplishments? 

  1. 2. 3. 

What are the three worst decisions I made in the last few years? (Choices that made me feel out of alignment or decisions that did not serve me or that I keep regretting.) 

  1. 2. 3. 

What are the three non-nourishing relationships in my life right now, and why have I chosen them? 

Relationship Reason for choosing 

  1. 2. 3. 

What are my top three time-wasting activities (activities that don’t move you forward, support your vision, or align with your purpose)? 

  1. 2. 3. 

What three common themes are showing up in my life over the past 10 years and over the past year? 

Past 10 years 

  1. 2. 3. 

This year 

  1. 2. 3. 

How do I want to define myself over the next 12 months? 

  1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 




From the list below, circle the 10 values I hold most dear (the most defining principles that guide my words, actions, and choices). 

  • Efficiency 
  • Integrity 
  • Accountability 
  • Joy 
  • Elegance
  • Perseverance 
  • Achievement 
  • Encouraging 
  • Fairness 
  • Principled 
  • Adventure 
  • Equality 
  • Austerity 
  • Kindness 
  • Altruism 
  • Defenselessness 
  • Purity 
  • Authenticity 
  • Fame 
  • Spirituality 
  • Love 
  • Purposeful 
  • Authority 
  • Family 
  • Balance 
  • Fitness
  • Impact 
  • Responsibility 
  • Belonging 
  • Flexible 
  • Merciful 
  • Simplicity 
  • Challenge 
  • Forgiving 
  • Nurturing 
  • Open-hearted 
  • Freedom 
  • Openness 
  • Status 
  • Cleanliness 
  • Friendship 
  • Order 
  • Success 
  • Collaboration 
  • Generous 
  • Accurate 
  • Organized 
  • Teamwork 
  • Goodness 
  • Gratitude 
  • Patience
    Trust 
  • Happiness 
  • Peace
    Trusting 
  • Courage 
  • Healthy 
  • Perfection 
  • Truth 
  • Creativity 
  • Honesty 
  • Persistence 
  • Understanding 
  • Discipline 
  • Humor 
  • Pleasure 
  • Selfless 
  • Inclusiveness 
  • Wealth 
  • Diversity 
  • Influence 
  • Power 
  • Wisdom 

From your choices above, or any others you hold dear, list your seven most important values. These are your Seven Sacred Values

My Seven Sacred Values 

  1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Doc Talk: WWII Veteran Perspective

When things go wrong; perspective. When things go well; perspective. During the struggles surrounding death and the joys at the birth of a child, become more aware, or just remember, life is a journey.

WWII veteran Mr. Richard Overton was 109 years at the making of the attached video (2017). Viewed over 27 million times (worth it just watching him drive his truck), Mr. Overton shares simple but inspiring ideas learned over the course of his long life. To paraphrase:

  • Be brave and strong
  • Do things you enjoy 
  • Continue doing what brings you joy regardless of age
  • Be in the company of the those you love
  • Spiritually is valuable
  • Simple things in life are all you need 
  • Use your time with purpose

Our best regards. 

Address:

444 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 215
San Diego, CA 92108

Phone:

(858) 565-0066
Fax: (619) 291-4662