Psychologists’ face off reveals humans can recognise 5,000 people


The scientists asked volunteers to spend an hour recalling as many faces as they could from their private lives, covering old school friends, work colleagues, past partners and colleagues.
The scientists asked volunteers to spend an hour recalling as many faces as they could from their private lives, covering old school friends, work colleagues, past partners and colleagues.

The next time an old friend meets your greeting with a quizzical who-are-you stare, you’re right to take offence: new research suggests the average person can recognise 5,000 different faces.

Psychologists at the University of York embarked on the study after realising that for all the work scientists have done on faces, they had never nailed down, even roughly, the number of faces the average human knows. They say it is the first evidence-based estimate of this figure.

Through a series of recall and recognition tests on volunteers, the researchers discovered that the human ability to recognise faces varies enormously. The study found that people know between 1,000 and 10,000 faces of friends, family members, colleagues and celebrities, with most racking up about 5,000.

“We were quite surprised by how high the top end was,” said Mike Burton, a professor of psychology who led the research at the University of York. About 2% of the population are thought to experience “face blindness” or prosopagnosia.

“We’ve studied faces for years and years and the main thing we always find is that there’s a huge difference between our ability to recognise familiar versus unfamiliar faces. People are surprisingly bad at checking a real face against a photo ID, and yet we recognise friends and colleagues over a huge range of conditions,” said Burton.

“The brain is doing something different with familiar and unfamiliar faces and that has been at the heart of our science for a long time. But we realised we were missing something if we didn’t know how many familiar faces people do recognise.”

The scientists asked volunteers to spend an hour recalling as many faces as they could from their private lives, covering old school friends, work colleagues, past partners and colleagues. They then moved on to famous faces: actors, musicians, sports stars, politicians and so on. By recording how the volunteers’ recall rates slowed down, the psychologists estimated when they would run out of faces.

In the next part of the study, the volunteers were shown thousands of photographs of famous people and tested on how many they recognised, even if they could not name the person. The scientists only counted an individual as recognised if the volunteer knew them from two different pictures.

The researchers arrived at the 5,000 figure by combining the results from both parts of the study. While the number may seem high, given that humans evolved in small groups, it may simply reflect the social importance of recognising friends and foes and vast number of faces we are now exposed to. Details of the work are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Given the social lives of our ancestors, the ability to recognise thousands of individuals might seem like overkill,” said Rob Jenkins, a psychologist at University of York and co-author on the study. “But there are plenty of examples of overkill in nature. The venom of some spiders can kill a horse, even though the spider presumably has no ambitions to eat the horse.” Equipped with such impressive facial recognition skills, it may be that we have little choice but to remember so many.

Burton said the research could ultimately improve automatic face recognition technology. Today’s best systems are good at spotting “strangers” but cannot outperform a human when it comes to recognising people the person is familiar with. “If we want to make the next step, we’ll need to start copying that,” said Burton.

Advertisements

Loneliness: The Truth Behind Your Fear of Being Alone


What Your Fear of Loneliness Is Really All About

“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

There’s a campaign happening now in the UK meant to tackle loneliness and its effects on the general population. Everyone knows that London can feel quite lonely, even when surrounded by people. My attempt here is to solve the cause of the lonely feeling, not the effect of it. Of course, calling someone can work, also going to a pub and having a drink might get you closer to someone.

There are so many apps these days that can be used to combat this awful feeling of being lonely. But in my opinion, the feeling of loneliness itself is not awful, but the meaning we give it. I think that loneliness stems out of the fear of being alone, of being with yourself, your true self. It’s easy to identify with the person everyone sees in you, but when you are alone, who are you?

What Your Fear of Loneliness Is Really All About

That’s a question most of us, including me, are dodging because we’re afraid of the answer. We’re afraid that we might find out that we’re not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough or capable enough.

That fear is so terrifying that we’d do almost anything to not feel it, including hanging out with people who may not do us any good. Some might think that it’s better to spend their time doing something that does not necessarily bring them joy but it’s anyway better than being alone. Also, this loneliness may keep us in toxic romantic relationships, where the predominant feeling is attachment and worry, where people are not happy but they just go with the flow or settle because “probably there’s nothing better out there anyway”.

In fact, we’re scared that someone else might see the real us and they won’t accept us, because why would they? We know what we really feel inside and we know how broken we are. Most of us settle for a comfortable relationship, one that usually becomes a partnership of buying a house and raising children, while one or both feel the need to go outside the relationship to fulfill all their needs.

The fact that the rate of divorce is getting higher and higher is because it became accepted nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that relationships until 30 years ago were happier. I used to get asked the question: do you think it’s better to stay in a toxic relationship or divorce? I’d say option number 3, having a loving, meaningful, honest relationship where love only grows for the rest of your life. The only reason why we’re settling for the first 2 options and we don’t keep looking for number 3 is that we just don’t know any better.

How many times did you hear someone say: “true love does not exist”, or “Love is never enough”. Of course, it’s not, especially because that’s not love.

What is Loneliness?

When a relationship only keeps going because of habit, attachment, and fear of loss, why do we expect them to feel good? Because we don’t know any better. I’ve never studied this in school, probably neither did you. But when you forget to love yourself, you cannot love anyone else. It’s something that comes from inside of you, so how could you ever give something to someone else if you don’t have that for yourself? I know that some people wish that this weren’t true because they don’t feel that much about themselves.

They see the failures that they are therefore they cannot love themselves. Who can ever love a failure? I think that the answer is obvious: God. I’m not talking about the God presented to you by religion, but that Force that lives inside of you and that you’re probably not forgotten everything about. When you connect with that Force, you cannot feel lonely ever, because you’re never alone. My suggestion is just to take a step back and stop running away from the fear because it’s, in fact, the fear of fear itself that is causing all your problems. Take a look at yourself and think: Is it really that bad? Am I really that bad?

Whatever you think you did, forgive yourself.

There’s nothing worse than being separated from what is in fact, your true nature. Once forgiveness starts, the healing will start as well. Don’t run away from it and don’t be afraid of it, you are not alone and you have never been. You just didn’t know any better, at the time it sounded like a good idea, so you went with it. I promise you, once you reconnect with your Self, you will not need anyone in your life.

Also, that’s when they will come because you won’t make everything about your pain anymore, you will be their bedrock and they will love you for it. But first and foremost, love yourself, because without that all you’re giving is emptiness and sadness. 

Sharing is caring!

Why we won’t get to Mars without teamwork


Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
If humanity hopes to make it to Mars anytime soon, we need to understand not just technology, but the psychological dynamic of a small group of astronauts trapped in a confined space for months with no escape.

If humanity hopes to make it to Mars anytime soon, we need to understand not just technology, but the psychological dynamic of a small group of astronauts trapped in a confined space for months with no escape, according to a paper published in American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association.

“Teamwork and collaboration are critical components of all space flights and will be even more important for astronauts during long-duration missions, such as to Mars. The astronauts will be months away from home, confined to a vehicle no larger than a mid-sized RV for two to three years and there will be an up to 45-minute lag on communications to and from Earth,” said Lauren Blackwell Landon, PhD, lead author of “Teamwork and Collaboration in Long-Duration Space Missions: Going to Extremes.”

Currently, psychological research on spaceflight is limited, especially regarding teams. Applying best practices in psychology, the authors offered insights into how NASA can assemble the best teams possible to ensure successful long-duration missions.

Astronauts who are highly emotionally stable, agreeable, open to new experiences, conscientious, resilient, adaptable and not too introverted or extroverted are more likely to work well with others. A sense of humor will also help to defuse tense situations, according to the authors.

The long delay in communication to and from Earth will mean that crews will have to be highly autonomous as they will not be able to rely on immediate help from Mission Control. The authors said this will be an ongoing challenge and having defined goals, building trust, developing communication norms and debriefing will help alleviate potential conflict.

The researchers also advised the use of technology to monitor the physiological health of astronauts to predict points of friction among team members, due to lack of sleep, for example.

“Successfully negotiating conflict, planning together as a team, making decisions as a team and practicing shared leadership should receive extensive attention long before a team launches on a space mission,” said Landon.

The paper is part of a special issue of American Psychologist, focusing on the psychology of teams and teamwork. The issue was guest edited by Susan McDaniel, PhD, University of Rochester Medical Center, and Eduardo Salas, PhD, Rice University.

Story Source:

Materials provided by American Psychological Association.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lauren Blackwell Landon, Kelley J. Slack, Jamie D. Barrett. Teamwork and collaboration in long-duration space missions: Going to extremes.. American Psychologist, 2018; 73 (4): 563 DOI: 10.1037/amp0000260

What your emojis say about you


Whether you like it or not, cartoon faces, stomping flamenco dancers and applauding hands have now entered your social life, albeit digitally.

 

While they once may have been novel or cute, the sea of emojis now available to you across digital platforms are the perfect punctuation to express your joy, laughter and sadness when messaging others.
“Hey, how are you?” is no longer a plain sentence. It’s now regularly accompanied by a round circle smiling back at you.
In a new paper published Tuesday in the journal Trends on Cognitive Sciences, a team of psychologists argue that as our daily interactions become more digital, scientists will benefit from studying them further. In particular, due to the growing use of emojis helping us get the same satisfaction from digital interactions as if we were communicating in person.
The researchers from Edge Hill University in the UK believe emojis enable non-verbal communication, such as gestures and facial expressions, in today’s digital world.

Defining meaning

Just look at the tears of joy emoji, the well-known yellow face with squinted eyes and tear drops flying out. On seeing that teary yet happy face, you know that the person sending it to you thinks something is funny enough to cry with laughter.
Words alone may not have gotten their sentiment across.
“Different regions of the brain light up when you’re looking at emojis compared to not looking at emojis,” said Linda Kaye, senior lecturer in psychology, who led the analysis.
“We see something neurologically different, implying they function as non-verbal,” she said.
Source of emojis: Emojione
In the real world, the use of hand gestures and expressions play a vital role in the way we communicate with someone. It helps them understand our meaning while subtly providing a window into our persona, such as how empathetic or approachable we are, according to Kaye.
When you can’t see the person you’re communicating with, an emoji is an effective option. “It’s how you emotionally express,” said Kaye. And your choice of emoji can dramatically alter the meaning of the sentence it’s included in and how you should respond.

Imagine receiving this message from your best friend: “I tripped and hit my head on the cupboard” followed by that iconic laughing face. Their words let you know that person is not hurt, and is fact now mocking their clumsiness.
The same sentence followed by closed eyes slanting down with a downturned lip, the classic sad face, will illicit quite a different reaction — or at least it should.
No emoji at all would convey the literal meaning of the statement and likely illicit the same response as the sad face, due to the nature of someone telling you that they are injured. But the fact that the person is upset about this may not be as clear — the use of an emoji clarifies how the person is feeling.
“It changes the meaning of how someone should interpret the text,” said Vyvyan Evans, professor of linguistics at Bangor University in the UK, and author of upcoming book “The Emoji Code.” He was not involved in the new analysis. “Emoji facilitates more effective communication.”
Whether you like emojis or not, it’s likely you will have used them at some point. Kaye believes that as emojis are more widely used, they can reveal someone’s true opinion on something, for example during scientific surveys, to ensure their messages “aren’t ambiguous,” she said. “We could be using them more in psychological experimentation,” added Kaye.
Many museums, companies and even transport networks are already resorting to a mild version of this, like the use of a scale of smiley faces ranging from happy to sad, instead of numbers, when asking for feedback on their services. The response to them can have more psychological insight than regular words or numbers, Kaye believes.

The psychology of emojis

In a 2016 study, Kaye identified some personality traits linked to people’s use of emojis.
Differences in emoji use by language

According to the Swiftkey 2015 Emoji Report:

  • French speakers use four times as many heart emoji than other languages
  • French is the only language where a ‘smiley’ does not top the list for its use
  • Arabic speakers used four times the average rate of Flowers and plants emoji
  • Russian speakers use three times the average rate of romantic emoji
  • Australia’s emoji use includes double the average amount of alcohol-themed emoji, 65% more drug emoji than the average
  • Americans lead for the use of a random assortment of emoji & categories, including skulls, birthday cake, fire, tech, LGBT, meat etc
One key finding was that the people using them tend to be more agreeable in nature. This has a similar truth among people who more often use facial expressions or varying intonation when face to face.
“It makes sense as these are probably people in the real world who are more smiley to people,” said Kaye.
Another factor her team identified was that people who commonly used emoji were more socially receptive and empathetic, making them more approachable. “It says something about how we’re understanding each other and how we’re likely to interact with people,” said Kaye.
When probing deeper into the specifics during the study, people who were more aware of how they come across to others were less likely to use sad emojis.
“We found that self-presentation was negatively related to using sad emojis,” said Kaye. “The more people are self-aware, the less they use these emojis.”
But when taking this all into account, age, of course, has a role to play. Younger members of the population have had digital communication permeate their daily lives from an early age. The findings also apply more greatly to social networking sites and communication apps, but not email.
“[Emails] are considered more professional,” said Kaye.
The previous research found that almost 80% of people included in the study used emojis when texting, while 76% used them on Facebook and just 15% used them in email contexts.
But as more apps and sites invade our lives, this psychological insight could evolve, as including emojis in messages may no longer be a choice.
Evans believes that embracing emojis is the only option if people want to interact productively in the future. “Someone who is not using them is not an effective communicator and therefore not effective an inducing an emotional response,” he said.
Kaye highlighted the example of dating sites, such as Match.com, where survey results show greater success at finding a match among people who use emojis more regularly in their online messaging. The same survey also found emoji users were more likely to want to get married — and there are limits to the acceptable level of emoji use.
“This is something that now exists and people need to use them,” he said. “That’s just the way it is now.”

Why Children Aren’t Behaving, And What You Can Do About It


Boy completes his chore of raking leaves

Childhood — and parenting — have radically changed in the past few decades, to the point where far more children today struggle to manage their behavior.

That’s the argument Katherine Reynolds Lewis makes in her new parenting book, The Good News About Bad Behavior.

We face a crisis of self-regulation,” Lewis writes. And by “we,” she means parents and teachers who struggle daily with difficult behavior from the children in their lives.

Lewis, a journalist, certified parent educator and mother of three, asks why so many kids today are having trouble managing their behavior and emotions.

Three factors, she says, have contributed mightily to this crisis.

First: Where, how and how much kids are allowed to play has changed. Second, their access to technology and social media has exploded.

Finally, Lewis suggests, children today are too “unemployed.” She doesn’t simply mean the occasional summer job for a high school teen. The term is a big tent, and she uses it to include household jobs that can help even toddlers build confidence and a sense of community.

“They’re not asked to do anything to contribute to a neighborhood or family or community,” Lewis tells NPR in a recent interview. “And that really erodes their sense of self-worth — just as it would with an adult being unemployed.”

Below is more of that interview, edited for length and clarity.

What sorts of tasks are children and parents prioritizing instead of household responsibilities?

To be straight-A students and athletic superstars, gifted musicians and artists — which are all wonderful goals, but they are long-term and pretty narcissistic. They don’t have that sense of contribution and belonging in a family the way that a simple household chore does, like helping a parent prepare a meal. Anyone who loves to cook knows it’s so satisfying to feed someone you love and to see that gratitude and enjoyment on their faces. And kids today are robbed of that.

It’s part of the work of the family. We all do it, and when it’s more of a social compact than an adult in charge of doling out a reward, that’s much more powerful. They can see that everyone around them is doing jobs. So it seems only fair that they should also.

Kids are so driven by what’s fair and what’s unfair. And that’s why the more power you give kids, the more control you give them, the more they will step up.

You also argue that play has changed dramatically. How so?

Two or three decades ago, children were roaming neighborhoods in mixed-age groups, playing pretty unsupervised or lightly supervised. They were able to resolve disputes, which they had a strong motivation to because they wanted to keep playing. They also planned their time and managed their games. They had a lot of autonomy, which also feeds self-esteem and mental health.

Nowadays, kids, including my own, are in child care pretty much from morning until they fall into bed — or they’re under the supervision of their parents. So they aren’t taking small risks. They aren’t managing their time. They aren’t making decisions and resolving disputes with their playmates the way that kids were 20 or 30 years ago. And those are really important social and emotional skills for kids to learn, and play is how all young mammals learn them.

While we’re on the subject of play and the importance of letting kids take risks, even physical risks, you mention a remarkable study out of New Zealand — about phobias. Can you tell us about it?

This study dates back to when psychologists believed that if you had a phobia as an adult, you must have had some traumatic experience as a child. So they started looking at people who had phobias and what their childhood experiences were like. In fact, they found the opposite relationship.

People who had a fall from heights were less likely to have an adult phobia of heights. People who had an early experience with near-drowning had zero correlation with a phobia of water, and children who were separated from their parents briefly at an early age actually had less separation anxiety later in life.

We need to help kids to develop tolerance against anxiety, and the best way to do that, this research suggests, is to take small risks — to have falls and scrapes and tumbles and discover that they’re capable and that they can survive being hurt. Let them play with sticks or fall off a tree. And yeah, maybe they break their arm, but that’s how they learn how high they can climb.

You say in the book that “we face a crisis of self-regulation.” What does that look like at home and in the classroom?

It’s the behavior in our homes that keeps us from getting out the door in the morning and keeps us from getting our kids to sleep at night.

In schools, it’s kids jumping out of seats because they can’t control their behavior or their impulses, getting into shoving matches on the playground, being frozen during tests because they have such high rates of anxiety.

Really, I lump under this umbrella of self-regulation the increase in anxiety, depression, ADHD, substance addiction and all of these really big challenges that are ways kids are trying to manage their thoughts, behavior and emotions because they don’t have the other skills to do it in healthy ways.

You write a lot about the importance of giving kids a sense of control. My 6-year-old resists our morning schedule, from waking up to putting on his shoes. Where is the middle ground between giving him control over his choices and making sure he’s ready when it’s time to go?

It’s a really tough balance. We start off, when our kids are babies, being in charge of everything. And our goal by the time they’re 18 is to be in charge of nothing — to work ourselves out of the job of being that controlling parent. So we have to constantly be widening the circle of things that they’re in charge of, and shrinking our own responsibility.

It’s a bit of a dance for a 6-year-old, really. They love power. So give him as much power as you can stand and really try to save your direction for the things that you don’t think he can do.

He knows how to put on his shoes. So if you walk out the door, he will put on his shoes and follow you. It may not feel like it, but eventually he will. And if you spend five or 10 minutes outside that door waiting for him — not threatening or nagging — he’ll be more likely to do it quickly. It’s one of these things that takes a leap of faith, but it really works.

Kids also love to be part of that discussion of, what does the morning look like. Does he want to draw a visual calendar of the things that he wants to get done in the morning? Does he want to set times, or, if he’s done by a certain time, does he get to do something fun before you leave the house? All those things that are his ideas will pull him into the routine and make him more willing to cooperate.

Whether you’re trying to get your child to dress, do homework or practice piano, it’s tempting to use rewards that we know our kids love, especially sweets and screen time. You argue in the book: Be careful. Why?

Yes. The research on rewards is pretty powerful, and it suggests that the more we reward behavior, the less desirable that behavior becomes to children and adults alike. If the child is coming up with, “Oh, I’d really like to do this,” and it stems from his intrinsic interests and he’s more in charge of it, then it becomes less of a bribe and more of a way that he’s structuring his own morning.

The adult doling out rewards is really counterproductive in the long term — even though they may seem to work in the short term. The way parents or teachers discover this is that they stop working. At some point, the kid says, “I don’t really care about your reward. I’m going to do what I want.” And then we have no tools. Instead, we use strategies that are built on mutual respect and a mutual desire to get through the day smoothly.

You offer pretty simple guidance for parents when they’re confronted with misbehavior and feel they need to dole out consequences. You call them the four R’s. Can you walk me through them?

The four R’s will keep a consequence from becoming a punishment. So it’s important to avoid power struggles and to win the kid’s cooperation. They are: Any consequence should be revealed in advance, respectful, related to the decision the child made, and reasonable in scope.

Generally, by the time they’re 6 or 7 years old, kids know the rules of society and politeness, and we don’t need to give them a lecture in that moment of misbehavior to drill it into their heads. In fact, acting in that moment can sometimes be counterproductive if they are amped up, their amygdala’s activated, they’re in a tantrum or excited state, and they can’t really learn very well because they can’t access the problem-solving part of their brain, the prefrontal cortex, where they’re really making decisions and thinking rationally. So every misbehavior doesn’t need an immediate consequence.

You even tell parents, in the heat of the moment, it’s OK to just mumble and walk away. What do you mean?

That’s when you are looking at your child, they are not doing what you want, and you cannot think of what to do. Instead of jumping in with a bribe or a punishment or yelling, you give yourself some space. Pretend you had something on the stove you need to grab or that you hear something ringing in the other room and walk away. That gives you just a little space to gather your thoughts and maybe calm down a little bit so you can respond to their behavior from the best place in you — from your best intentions as a parent.

I can imagine skeptics out there, who say, “But kids need to figure out how to live in a world that really doesn’t care what they want. You’re pampering them!” In fact, you admit your own mother sometimes feels this way. What do you say to that?

I would never tell someone who’s using a discipline strategy that they feel really works that they’re wrong. What I say to my mom is, “The tools and strategies that you used and our grandparents used weren’t wrong, they just don’t work with modern kids.” Ultimately, we want to instill self-discipline in our children, which will never happen if we’re always controlling them.

If we respond to our kids’ misbehavior instead of reacting, we’ll get the results we want. I want to take a little of the pressure off of parenting; each instance is not life or death. We can let our kids struggle a little bit. We can let them fail. In fact, that is the process of childhood when children misbehave. It’s not a sign of our failure as parents. It’s normal.

For all book lovers please visit my friend’s website.
URL: http://www.romancewithbooks.com

That Obscure Subject of Desire


Let’s talk about pleasure. I keep hearing a particular gripe about this cultural shift, and maybe you have too. Some people have been calling this movement Puritanical or a return to Victorian values, where men can’t behave or speak sexually around dainty, delicate, fragile women. To these people I want to say:

The current system is Puritanical. Maybe men can say and do whatever they want, but women cannot. The current system inhibits women from expressing our desires, wants and needs, from seeking our pleasure. Let me tell you about my own experience:

I turned 12 on the set of my first film, The Professional, in which I played a young girl who befriends a hitman and hopes to avenge the murder of her family by a corrupt DEA officer. The character is simultaneously discovering and developing her womanhood, her desire, and her voice. At that moment in my life, I, too, was discovering my own womanhood, my own desire, and my own voice.

I was so excited, at 13, when the film was released and my work and my art would have a human response. I excitedly opened my first fan mail, to read a rape fantasy a man had written to me. A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my “budding breasts” in reviews. I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually, I would feel unsafe, and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body, to my great discomfort.

I quickly adjusted my behavior. I rejected any role that even had a kissing scene, and talked about that choice deliberately in interviews. I emphasized my bookishness and seriousness and cultivated a way of public dressing that was stereotypically “elegant and refined.” I built a reputation for basically being prudish, conservative, nerdy and serious — in an attempt to feel that my body was safe and my voice would be listened to.

At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me. I felt the need to cover my body, and to inhibit my expression and my work, in order to send my own message to the world that I’m someone worthy of safety and respect. The response to my expression- from small comments about my body to more threatening, deliberate statements, served to control my behavior, through an environment of sexual terrorism — where even a woman who is not directly subject to assault, feels threatened by the environment of violence to inhibit her behavior.

A world in which I could wear whatever I want, say whatever I want, and express my desire however I want, without fearing for my physical safety or reputation — that would be the world in which female desire and sexuality could have its greatest expression and fulfillment. That world we want to build, is the opposite of puritanical.

One of my girlfriends from school used to joke: “sometimes it’s easier to just kiss the guy than explain to him why you don’t want to.” We would all laugh, but the message was clear — we were more worried about offending the guy, or being uncomfortable with him, or hurting his feelings, than about doing what we wanted to do.

As girls, we were socialized to spend our time making ourselves look attractive to guys- our hair, our makeup, our bodies. We learned our best angles for them, the things boys liked us to say — and the things they didn’t like us to. We were able to see ourselves through their eyes, and dictate our behavior by what they wanted us to be like. And it made us sometimes forget to ask what we, ourselves, wanted. And often made us unable to even know what we, ourselves wanted, because we were so caught up in thinking about what they wanted.

Well let’s not make our new world about we and they, about us and them. Considering what someone else desires isn’t a bad thing. Actually, it’s a form of empathy. The consideration just needs to be reciprocal, and not at the expense of one’s own desire.

So I’d like to propose one way to continue moving this revolution forward: Let’s declare loud and clear: This is what I want. This is what I need. This is what I desire. This is how you can help me achieve pleasure.

To people of all genders here with us today, let us find a space where we mutually, consensually look out for each other’s pleasure, and allow the vast, limitless range of desire to be expressed.

Let’s make a revolution of desire.

Marriage Has Become a Trophy


A wedding is no longer the first step into adulthood that it once was, but, often, the last.

The decline of marriage is upon us. Or, at least, that’s what the zeitgeist would have us believe. In 2010, when Time magazine and the Pew Research Center famously asked Americans whether they thought marriage was becoming obsolete, 39 percent said yes. That was up from 28 percent when Time asked the question in 1978. Also, since 2010, the Census Bureau has reported that married couples have made up less than half of all households; in 1950 they made up 78 percent. Data such as these have led to much collective handwringing about the fate of the embattled institution.

An illustration of husband and wife figurines on a cake, with a stroller, graduation caps, and a mailbox full of money

But there is one statistical tidbit that flies in the face of this conventional wisdom: A clear majority of same-sex couples who are living together are now married. Same-sex marriage was illegal in every state until Massachusetts legalized it in 2004, and it did not become legal nationwide until the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. Two years after that decision, 61 percent of same-sex couples who were sharing a household were married, according to a set of surveys by Gallup. That’s a high take-up rate: Just because same-sex couples are able to marry doesn’t mean that they have to; and yet large numbers have seized the opportunity. (That’s compared with 89 percent of different-sex couples.)

The move toward marriage has not been driven by young gay and lesbian couples rushing to the altar. In both the year before and the year after Obergefell, only one out of seven people whom the Census Bureau classified as in a same-sex marriage was age 30 or younger, according to calculations I’ve done based on the bureau’s American Community Survey. In fact, half of them were age 50 or older. The only way that could have happened, given that same-sex marriage has been legal for less than 15 years, is if large numbers of older same-sex couples who had been together for many years took advantage of the new laws. In other words, changes in state and federal laws seem to have spurred a backlog of committed, medium- to long-term couples to marry.

Why would they choose to do so after living, presumably happily, as cohabiting unmarried partners? In part, they may have married to take advantage of the legal rights and benefits of married couples, such as the ability to submit a joint federal tax return. But the legal issues, important as they are, appear secondary. In a 2013 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 84 percent of LGBT individuals said that “love” was a very important reason to marry, and 71 percent said “companionship” was very important, compared to 46 percent who said that “legal rights and benefits” are very important.

Yet the emphasis on love and companionship is not enough to explain the same-sex marriage boom. Without doubt, most of the middle-aged same-sex couples who have married of late already had love and companionship—otherwise they would not have still been together. So why marry now? Marriage became for them a public marker of their successful union, providing them the opportunity to display their love and companionship to family and friends. One reason, of course, was the desire to claim a right so long denied, but that only further underlines the way in which marriage today signals to the wider community the success of a long-standing relationship.

In this sense, these gay couples were falling right in line with the broader American pattern right now: For many people, regardless of sexual orientation, a wedding is no longer the first step into adulthood that it once was, but, often, the last. It is a celebration of all that two people have already done, unlike a traditional wedding, which was a celebration of what a couple would do in the future.

Consistent with this shift in meaning, different-sex couples, like the many of the same-sex couples who have married recently, are starting their marriages later in their lives. According to the Census Bureau, the median age at first marriage—the age at which half of all marriages occur—was 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men in 2017. That’s higher than at any time since the Census began keeping records in 1890. It is six years higher than when I got married in 1972 (at the typical age of 24). In my era, a young couple usually got married first, then moved in together, then started their adult roles as workers or homemakers, and then had children. (I scandalized my parents by living with my future wife before I married her.) Now marriage tends to come after most of these markers are attained.

The main distinction in marriage patterns today is between Americans who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree and those with less education. The college-educated are more likely to eventually marry, even though they may take longer to get around to it. In addition, nearly nine out of 10 wait until after they marry to have children, whereas a majority of those without college educations have a first child before they marry. Rates of divorce have been dropping across the board since about 1980, but the drop has been steeper for the college-educated. In the mid-20th century, people’s educational level had less impact on when, whether, and for how long they married. Today, marriage is a much more central part of family life among the college educated.

Nevertheless, the last-step view of marriage is common across all educational groups in United States. And it is being carried to the nth degree in Scandinavia. In Norway and Sweden, a majority of the population marries, but weddings often take place long after a couple starts to have children, or even after all of their children are born. The median age at first marriage in Norway is an astounding 39 for men and 38 for women, according to a recent estimate—six to eight years higher than the median age at first childbirth. In Sweden, one study found that 17 percent of all marriages had occurred after the couple had had two children. Why do they even bother to marry at such a late stage of their unions? Norwegians told researchers that they view marriage as a way to demonstrate love and commitment and to celebrate with relatives and friends the family they have constructed. This is capstone marriage: The wedding is the last brick put in place to finally complete the building of the family.

Americans have tended to rank marriage as more important than Europeans do for as long as there have been Americans. The transatlantic difference extends back to the Calvinist settlers who believed in the exalted place of marriage found in Martin Luther’s theology. And the difference has persisted: Between 2005 and 2009, the World Values Survey asked samples of people in various Western countries whether they agreed with the statement, “Marriage is an outdated institution.” Just 12.6 percent of Americans agreed, which is smaller than the proportion who agreed in any of the Western European nations surveyed, including heavily Catholic Italy (where 18.1 percent agreed) and Spain (31.6 percent).

Justice Anthony Kennedy reflected this high American regard for marriage when he wrote for the majority of the Court in Obergefell, “Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.” Although many on the cultural and political left applauded the Court’s decision, Kennedy’s language was quite traditionalist. In fact, plenty of Americans view marriage as, at best, one of many lifestyle choices and, at worst, a deeply flawed heterosexual institution that should be transcended. Some go as far as to argue that families headed by married couples should be replaced by networks of friends and past and present romantic partners.

The alternative visions are far from replacing marriage. It is an open question, however, how much longer marriage will continue to dominate American family life. According to the General Social Survey, a national survey of Americans conducted every other year, the percentage of Americans who agreed with the statement, “It is alright for a couple to live together without intending to get married,” increased from 41 percent in 1994 to 57 percent in 2012, the last time the question was asked. Moreover, the material foundations of marriage have weakened. America is well past the heyday of the farm family in which a husband and wife united in labor and raised children to help work the land. Marriage seems to operate best today for parents who pool two incomes and invest heavily in their children’s development. Yet these investments could be made by parents in long-term cohabiting relationships. The dominance of marriage may simply be due to what the sociologist William Ogburn called “cultural lag”: the tendency of attitudes and values to change more slowly than the material conditions that underlie them.

There may soon be a slowdown in the proportion of same-sex couples who choose to marry. Sometime soon, the backlog of same-sex couples wishing to marry will be depleted. At that point, marriage rates among same-sex couples will depend largely on what younger people in recently formed relationships do. Many of them may do the same things that younger different-sex couples are doing: live together in cohabiting relationships, postpone marriage, and ultimately choose marriage less frequently than their parents’ generation did. If that happens, the rate of same-sex marriage will slow. But it will surely persist—more, to be sure, as a common last step into adulthood than as a first.

How to Heal Emotional Trauma


Why is it so difficult to heal emotional trauma? Maybe it is because we do not understand what our emotional wounds really are, and therefore we go about healing in ways that can never work.

When I was young, I was in a horrifically abusive relationship for over a year. Even though I was able to eventually “get out” and save myself, it took me many years to figure out how to heal the deep emotional wounds.

trauma

Understanding Emotional Wounds

We tend to think of an emotional wound as the original traumatic experience – as the “thing” that happened to us, but the wound is actually the dis-empowering belief that we developed as a result of the traumatic experience.

In the search for emotional security, our natural response to any traumatic event is to make sense of it. We “make sense” of things by creating beliefs. Beliefs that we develop in response to traumatic experiences are Traumatic Beliefs. Because Traumatic Beliefs are disempowering and painful, they become emotional wounds.

The reason many people don’t heal is because they try to heal the original traumatic experience and not the Traumatic Belief. By understanding that emotional wounds are actually the Traumatic Beliefs that we hold about ourselves and/or the world, we have the power to heal.

When a child experiences himself as abandoned, for example, that child forms beliefs around abandonment in order to explain why he was abandoned. The child may answer the question, “Why?” by creating a belief that he was not good enough. The abandonment is the not the wound. The wound is the belief in unworthiness. In this case, healing involves releasing the Traumatic Belief of unworthiness.

Two people can experience the same trauma and have completely different responses, because they develop very different beliefs about the experience.

Traumatic Beliefs Create Emotional Needs

Traumatic Beliefs always create corresponding emotional needs which must be met in order to heal. The catch is that a Traumatic Belief also creates an invisible barrier that keeps the emotional need from being met. For example, if the Traumatic Belief is, “I am not worthy,” the emotional need is feeling worthy. If you could feel unconditionally worthy, the wound would heal. The problem is, if you believe that you are not worthy, you will block the feeling of worthiness because it does not align with your beliefs about worth. This is also why healing is so challenging.

Traumatic Beliefs are Self-fulfilling and Self-Sabotaging

When we have been wounded, we feel justified in holding onto Traumatic Beliefs. Part of us may even think that these beliefs keep us from getting hurt again, and the thought of releasing them makes us feel very vulnerable – without these beliefs, what will protect us? But, Traumatic Beliefs do not protect us in the first place. In fact, these beliefs are self-sabotaging by being self-fulfilling. When we look closely, it becomes apparent that these beliefs actually cause, attract and create more of what we do not want. All beliefs effect the quantum field that creates our reality, but Traumatic Beliefs have an even stronger influence on reality because they are fueled with intense emotional energy. Therefore, if we believe we are powerless, we attract situations to us that support that belief.

Take Full Responsibility

An essential key to healing is taking complete responsibility for your life and for your wounds. As long as you blame the outside world for your pain, you give away your power to heal. This is not about letting others off the hook who have harmed us. This is about empowering yourself to be whole. If you cannot find a way to take responsibility for your life experiences, then begin by taking responsibility for your beliefs. Regardless of what transpired in the outside world, you are the only one who thinks your thoughts and therefore you are responsible for creating and believing any Traumatic Beliefs. This means that you also have the power to release these beliefs, and, therefore, you can heal yourself.

Why are Traumatic Beliefs so Painful?

Traumatic Beliefs disconnect you from who you really are because your true self could never believe that you are powerless or unworthy. When you accept these disempowering beliefs, you experience separation from your true self and this is the cause of pain and suffering. The pain is your inner guidance system alerting you to the disconnection so that you can heal by releasing incongruent beliefs.

The Higher Purpose of Traumatic Experiences

The higher purpose of traumatic experiences is to point our attention to hidden or underlying beliefs that already exist in our psyche. The traumatic experience activates the hidden belief so that we are aware of it, in order to heal. This is the point. You cannot heal something that you are unaware of. The pain directs your attention to the belief that needs to be healed in order for you to awaken.

Four Traumatic Beliefs

In order to heal, it is important that you uncover the Core Traumatic Belief(s) of the wound. There are four Core Traumatic Beliefs: Victimhood, Powerlessness, Worthlessness and Loss. All Traumatic Beliefs fall into one or more of these four categories.

Victimhood

When I was in that horrifically abusive relationship, the greatest of the wounds was the belief that I was a victim; causing me to live in great fear for many years, even after the abuse had ended. Because I was desperate to heal and have my life back, I finally looked deep into my own self. Eventually, what I understood was that I was feeling like a victim well before that relationship had ever manifested. The relationship overtly demonstrated my inner beliefs in the outer world in a way that I could not ignore.

Later, as an adult, the healing was remembering, at the deepest level, that I was responsible for my own life, and that my life was a reflection of all my beliefs. I discovered that the opposite of victim is not survivor. The opposite of victim is creator. When I remembered that I was the creator of my life, victimhood could no longer exist – and the wound was permanently healed.

The key to healing the Traumatic Belief of victimhood is waking up to who you really are and remembering that you are the creator of your life. Maybe you don’t understand how you created something, and you would certainly not consciously create a traumatic event that would make you feel victimized, nonetheless, we unconsciously create from hidden subconscious beliefs, and physical events in our lives give us clues to these underlying beliefs.

Once we become aware of theses disempowering beliefs, we have the opportunity to consciously heal them, by over-turning them, declaring their falsehood and turning toward a higher truth. In this case, the higher truth is I am the creator of my life. True power comes from learning to be a conscious creator, but this can only happen as we flush out unconscious beliefs and we align with the truth of who we really are.

Powerlessness

Even before we experience any traumatic events, most of us are socialized to believe that the world has power over us. So, when a traumatic experience does unfold, the idea of being powerless is already in our belief system, therefore, powerlessness seems an appropriate way to make sense of a negative event.
Healing from the Traumatic Belief of powerlessness is embracing ones intrinsic power – not the power that comes from control, but rather the power that originates in the core of your being and connects you to the universe and all that is. Healing the Traumatic Belief of powerlessness is an emotional journey from powerless to powerful.

Worthlessness

Of all the Traumatic Beliefs, worthlessness runs the deepest. We are programmed to believe that we are unworthy from the time we are very young. So when we experience trauma, and we search internally for a belief that will make sense of the experience, unworthiness quickly answers the question, “Why did this happen to me?”

Of course, unworthiness is a false belief and therefore it must be exposed in order to be released. When it is hidden, there is no need to pay attention but once it causes pain, you must do something about it. The good and bad news is that the pain will not go away until the false belief of unworthiness is released and you cease seeking proof of your worth in the outside world. The world cannot give or take away your worth because your worth is intrinsic and guaranteed. Absolute healing is attained when you discover and claim your unconditional worth.

Loss

Often, when we have an emotional wound, we believe that someone has taken something from us. No matter how hard we try, it appears impossible to retrieve what has been stolen. This search often keeps the wound alive – believing that we have lost something and it must be retrieved keeps us locked in a vicious cycle of perpetual hurt.

Loss does not necessarily create an emotional wound. We all experience loss – loss of an aging parent or loss of a relationship, for example. Loss is part of the flow of life. Grieving is a natural response to loss and it is the process of letting go. However, if we do not let go, loss can turn into an emotional wound. This occurs when a Traumatic Belief is formed about the loss; for example, beliefs like, “no one will ever love me again,” or “everyone I care about leaves me.” Again, it is the Traumatic Belief that creates the emotional wound and not the loss itself.

When loss creates an emotional wound, we often close down and cut ourselves off from the very thing that could heal us. If we develop a Traumatic Belief around losing love, we not only block potential new relationships, we cut ourselves off from self-love and even higher love. In other words, we do to ourselves what we fear others might do to us.

The healing is remembering that the Source of who you really are provides all that you need, if only you ask, allow and receive – by trusting something greater than the physical self, you align with the rhythm of the universe where the idea of loss does not exist. Inherent in all Traumatic Beliefs is the absolute truth of your existence.

How do we actually heal Traumatic Beliefs?

Release Identification with the Wound

When we develop and feed wounds with our attention over the course of years, we begin to identify with the wound, or, better said, we create an identity around the wounded-self. So, now we are not just releasing a wound, we are letting go of our identity. The thing is, you are not and can never be a wounded identity. This is a false belief and a false identity. In order to heal, it is important that you begin to release the identification with the wound, and that you begin to see yourself as whole – not the wounded self, but the whole self. Who are you without this wound? This is who you really are, and this is who you must become again.

Meet Your Own Emotional Needs

Emotional wounds are often left open because we continue to look to others to meet our emotional needs. In order to heal, we must take responsibility for our own emotional needs and we must find ways to meet them. So, instead of looking to others for love, for example, we must love ourselves. By giving ourselves love, we fill the wound, and we heal.

Transformational Forgiveness

Transformational Forgiveness is not about forgiving another or forgiving ourselves, as much as it is about letting go of the beliefs that keep us trapped – as the prisoner of unhealed wounds. Ask yourself, “Do I want to heal more than I want to hold onto these beliefs?” If the answer is yes, it is time to let go of disempowering false beliefs.

Allow Emotions to Process Through

In order to heal an emotional wound, emotions must be able to “process through” until completion. If we allow our emotions to come up over and over again without resolution, we are actually reactivating the wound and each time we do, it magnifies. Healing requires resolution. This means feeling your emotions completely and not pushing them down or away. The healing comes when you allow your emotions space to be experienced until the process is complete. In order to allow emotions to “process through” you must get in your body. Emotional wounds are stored in the body, and therefore the way to release them is by getting in your body and feeling your emotions until the process feels complete.

Revision

Since the mind does not know the difference between real and imagined, it is possible to go back to a past event and revise it in such a way that the wound automatically heals. The key to successful revision is giving your past-self a new set of beliefs that empower him or her to know your worth, power and connection to who you really are. In this way, you can revise your past-self to speak the truth, set a boundary or exercise personal power in a way that allows your past-self to rise up; ultimately avoiding the emotional trauma or responding to the traumatic event in a way that no wound was created.

Look for a Deeper Truth

For me, my complete healing came from the realization that the person whom I thought hurt me was actually in my life to save me, by physically demonstrating the emotional abuse that I was imposing on myself. Without him serving me in this way, how would I have been able to identify my feelings of victimhood, worthlessness and powerlessness that I carried from childhood? By understanding this deeper truth, my emotional pain transmuted into gratitude. There is always a deeper truth. If you haven’t uncovered a truth that sets you free, go deeper, and keep going until you find it.

Rise Above

Every thought and belief has a coinciding vibration. Fear is at the low end of the vibratory spectrum while love is at the high end. Emotional wounds are low vibratory beliefs about oneself and/or the world. The wound exists at a low vibration and it keeps you stagnated at this low vibration. If you were to consistently raise your vibration to a higher vibration and keep it there, the wound could not exist. In other words, if you turned your full attention toward love and forgiveness, the wound would dissolve because it cannot exist at a high vibration.

The Commitment to Heal

Healing requires commitment and consistency. Because trauma wires your brain for disempowering beliefs, emotional healing requires the re-wiring of your brain for empowering beliefs; this involves the development of new conscious thought patterns that are consistently practiced over a period of time.

Enlisting the help of a healing professional to assist you may exponentially quicken the healing process, but in the end you must do it for yourself. In healing yourself you discover the strength, courage and power to live your life the way it was intended to be lived. If you are here to help others heal, maybe you access the skills to do so, that could not have been acquired in any other manner than going through the process yourself.

The ultimate healing is the awakening to your power and worth. You cannot remember that you are unconditionally worthy and intrinsically powerful and still maintain emotional wounds. There is nothing that cannot be healed through the power of knowing your Real Self.

People Don’t Actually Know Themselves Very Well


Chances are, your coworkers are better at rating some parts of your personality than you are.When Donald Trump tweeted that he was a “very stable genius,” he was accused of lacking self-awareness by journalists and comedians. But the truth is that no one has perfect self-awareness—you probably believe more than a few things about yourself that are false.

Whether it’s in trying to land a job or impress a date, people spend a staggering amount of time making claims about themselves. It makes sense: You’re the only person on Earth who has direct knowledge of every thought, feeling, and experience you’ve ever had. Who could possibly know you better than you? But your backstage access to your own mind sometimes makes you the last person on Earth others should trust about it. Think of it like owning a car: Just because you’ve driven it for years doesn’t mean you can pinpoint when and why the engine broke down.

Sixteen rigorous studies of thousands of people at work have shown that people’s coworkers are better than they are at recognizing how their personality will affect their job performance. As a social scientist, if I want to get a read on your personality, I could ask you to fill out a survey on how stable, dependable, friendly, outgoing, and curious you are. But I would be much better off asking your coworkers to rate you on those same traits: They’re often more than twice as accurate. They can see things that you can’t or won’t—and these studies reveal that whatever you know about yourself that your coworkers don’t is basically irrelevant to your job performance.

Humans’ blind spots are predictable: There are certain types of traits where people can’t see themselves clearly, but others where they can. The psychologist Simine Vazire asked people to rate themselves and four friends on a bunch of traits, ranging from emotional stability and intelligence to creativity and assertiveness. Then, to see if they had predicted their own personalities better than their friends had, they took a bunch of tests that measured these traits.The good news: You have some unique insight into your emotional stability. In the study, people outperformed their friends at predicting how anxious they’d look and sound when giving a speech about how they felt about their bodies. But they did no better than their friends (or than strangers who had met them just eight minutes earlier) at forecasting how assertive they’d be in a group discussion. And when they tried to predict their performance on an IQ test and a creativity test, they were less accurate than their friends.

People know themselves best on the traits that are tough to observe and easy to admit. Emotional stability is an internal state, so your friends don’t see it as vividly as you do. And although people might not want to call themselves unstable, the socially acceptable range is fairly wide, so we don’t tend to feel terribly anxious about being outed as having some anxiety. With more observable traits, we don’t have unique knowledge. If you’re a raging extrovert or a radical introvert, we don’t need to ask you—we can pick it up pretty quickly from your impromptu karaoke performances or your complaints that your husband types too loudly. And with the most evaluative traits, you just can’t be trusted. You probably want to convince everyone—and yourself—that you’re smart and creative.

This is why people consistently overestimate their intelligence, a pattern that seems to be more pronounced among men than women. It’s also why people overestimate their generosity: It’s a desirable trait. And it’s why people fall victim to my new favorite bias: the I’m-not-biased bias, where people tend to believe they have fewer biases than the average American. But you can’t judge whether you’re biased, because when it comes to yourself, you’re the most biased judge of all. And the more objective people think they are, the more they discriminate, because they don’t realize how vulnerable they are to bias.Any time a trait is easy to observe or hard to admit, you need other people to hold up a mirror for you. Romantic partners and close friends might be more informed, because they’ve observed you more—but they can also have blurrier vision, because they chose you and often share that pesky desire to see you positively. You need people who are motivated to see you accurately. And I’ve come to believe that more often than not, those people are your colleagues. The people you work with closely have a vested interest in making you better (or at least less difficult). The challenge is they’re often reluctant to tell you the stuff you don’t want to hear, but need to hear.

Over the past few months, I’ve learned a lot about how to overcome those barriers. While recording a podcast, I invited myself into some unconventional workplaces. I was surprised that in each workplace, they made a it big priority to help people gain self-awareness—sometimes it was even part of their performance evaluations. And I walked away with new insights on how people can see themselves more clearly.

One: If you want people to really know you, weekly meetings don’t cut it. You need deep dives with them in high-intensity situations. When I talked with a crew of astronauts who went to the International Space Station together, I found out that NASA prepared them by sending them into the wilderness for 11 days together. Their guides promptly let them get lost, and they said they came out of that experience knowing each other better than colleagues they’d worked with for years. At Morning Star, a leading tomato-paste plant that has operated successfully for decades without a single boss, I was stunned to discover that the founder often interviews job applicants at their own homes for three to five hours.Two: Looking under your own hood at what makes you tick and writing it down can provide a useful reference. I’ve seen a growing number of managers write their own user manuals to help people understand what brings out the best and worst in them. But it’s even better to have the people who know you well write your user manual for you. On a visit to the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, I got to see people rate each other daily on up to 77 different dimensions. It sounds intense, but it forces people to be honest with themselves. And at Morning Star, employees get to write their own job descriptions based on how they plan to contribute to the company’s mission that year. But they have to get their closest colleagues to buy in on it, and then their coworkers rate their performance and determine their salary.

Three: Put yourself in situations where you can’t ignore feedback from multiple sources. In studies, one friend is only a little better at gauging a person’s intelligence and creativity than they themselves are; four friends are significantly better. When I infiltrated the writers’ room at The Daily Show, the host, Trevor Noah, told me he makes up 90 percent of his stand-up comedy on stage. He just starts riffing on topics and gets instant input on what’s funny from a whole crowd. And at Bridgewater, the ratings are weighted by how believable your colleagues have proven themselves to be in each domain. When five of your close colleagues have a track record of being highly organized and they all say you’re not, it’s tough to argue that you’re right and they’re wrong.

Imagine if the White House were organized this way. Presidents are rated all the time in public-opinion polls, but they’d learn a lot more if their own teams evaluated them. Since stability is an internal state, as long as he’s not clinically unstable, President Trump might be able to weigh in on it accurately. But he—like everyone—probably can’t see himself clearly when it comes to traits that are clearly desirable or undesirable, like intelligence.

The first rule of intelligence: Don’t talk about your intelligence. It’s something you prove, not something you claim. As comedian Patton Oswalt quipped about humor, the only person who goes around saying “I’m funny” is a not-funny person. If you were really funny, you’d just make people laugh.

So if I wanted to know how smart political candidates were, I wouldn’t bother with an IQ test. I’d just ask one question: How intelligent do you think you are?

The real geniuses will know it’s not their place to judge.

A psychologist explains the best way to rewire the brain to let go of worrying


Sometimes it seems like everyone we know suffers from some sort of anxiety. Our brains are literally hardwired to worry about things, but in this digital and modern age, it can be hard for our brains to pick and choose the things it needs to focus on.

Obviously, you don’t have to worry about being chased down by a cheetah…well, most people don’t. But our brains like to recall the times when we did have to worry about those things.

It can mean that we overreact and overcompensate for many other areas of our lives when worry and anxiety kicks in.

Worrying is not natural, and there’s no physical or physiological benefit to it these days.

Before, it saved our lives, but now, it can rob us of life.

However, according to psychologist Deborah L. Davis in Psychology Today, there are 10 proven steps to calming our mind to let go of our worry.

We’ve summarized her 10 steps below.

1) Make Yourself Comfortable

When you start to feel thoughts of anxiety creeping into your brain, take a minute to sit down and make yourself comfortable in your favorite chair, or a quiet place away from people. Put your feet up and get yourself into a position that makes you feel at ease.

2) Close Your Eyes

Once you are feeling comfortable, close your eyes and let your body relax. This will be hard at first because you are feeling anxious about something, but give your body time to catch up to your brain. By closing your eyes, you are literally closing off the world, and this can make it easier to focus on yourself.

3) Sense Your Body

As you lay there with your eyes closed and your feet up, feel your body moving as you breathe. Pay attention to how your arms and legs feel. How does your hair feel on your head? How do your jeans feel on your legs? Feel your arms and legs if it helps you visualize what you are doing.

Not only can this action help to refocus your energy away from whatever is causing you anxiety, it can help center your body to make you feel better.

4) Pay Attention to Your Breathing

Sometimes when you pay attention to how fast we are breathing we start to breathe faster, so tell yourself about how slow you are breathing and allow your body to slow your breathing naturally.

Take deep breaths and don’t force yourself to slow down until your body is ready to do so. Relaxing and closing your eyes can shut the world out so you can focus on your breathing to get it under control faster.

5) Listen to Your Breathing

Our bodies are an amazing thing, and not only is it important to pay attention to your breathing, but pay attention to how your breathing sounds. Listen for the sounds of air going in and out of your lungs. Listen for how the air sounds being expelled into the space around you.

You don’t have to change the way you breathe, it could happen naturally as you start to shift your focus on what’s important here: reducing anxiety.

6) Feel Your Stomach Rise and Fall

Place your hands on your stomach and feel how your belly moves up and down as you breathe. This can help you channel energy into your body and remove anxiety from it as well.

As you pay attention to the muscle movements and nuances of how your body breathes on its own, you’ll start to feel better about what’s on your mind.

7) Let Your Mind Wander

Now that you have all of these jobs to do: look, listen, and feel for your breathing, you will start to notice that your mind is wandering to other things.

Perhaps you are thinking about solutions to whatever is causing you this anxiety. Let your mind wander to and fro for some time. You might find that this open communication with your brain creates solutions for you.

8) Redirect Your Mind

After a few minutes, though, redirect your thoughts to your breathing. By focusing on your breathing, you are most likely to reduce your stress levels and help induce calm into your brain so you can get on with your day.

9) Be Patient

This process can take time, and it might be difficult for you to initially relax and focus on your breathing.

If you are serious about changing the way stress enters your life, you’ll keep trying to get better at this process. After all, practice makes perfect.

10) Think Calm

Above all else, the mind believes what it can conceive, so if you think calming thoughts, your brain will eventually catch up.

Don’t waste time worrying about the things you can’t change. Focus on making yourself feel better with what you’ve got, and work at it everyday.