Archive of ‘Family’ category

How To Better Understand An Introvert

When someone hears the terms introvert and extrovert, their initial thought is usually “shy” or “outgoing”. This is a big misconception, especially for introverts. While introverts are quieter and some may even consider themselves shy, this is not something that is universal for all introverts. Introverts typically draw their energy from within and frequently need quiet time to refuel (which may explain the why they are perceived as “shy”), while extroverts draw energy from the outside world, larger social groups, and new experiences. Introverts tend to channel more of their attention to their rich inner lives and like to spend more time alone than extroverts, who prefer to expend their energy connecting with the world around them.

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

Most people fall somewhere along a spectrum, with elements of both introversion and extroversion in their personalities. It can be difficult to identify introversion in teens because they choose to act more extroverted in order to fit in. This can also be true for some adults. Society has become an ideal place for extroverts, and can be exceedingly difficult for introverts to navigate. Group projects, school dances, college parties, or even work parties can be anxiety provoking for an introvert.

Recent research shows the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts is different, and even leads to the use of different neural pathways. The brain processes information, memory, and decision-making along different pathways, mediated by two major brain chemicals – acetylcholine and dopamine. Each of these neurotransmitters starts a different process in the brain, resulting in different behaviors and different rewards for those behaviors. Introverts rely much more on acetylcholine-mediated pathways, resulting in a longer circuit through the frontal lobes of the brain, a longer time in the planning and decision-making mode, and slower memory retrieval. However, they have greater synthesis of information from different parts of the brain. The brain receives chemical boosts or “rewards” for thinking, pondering, focusing on a particular item for study, and concentrating.

Extroverts rely more on the dopamine-mediated pathway, which takes a shorter circuit through the mid-regions of the brain, making more connections in sections that start and stop speaking, trigger interest in others, shift attention quickly focus on the outside world, pleasure, and what’s new and exciting. Dopamine pathways provide powerful rewards that can promote addiction. Findings published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that extroverts had more blood flow to the back of the brain, while introverts had “higher blood flow to the frontal lobes – home to the system that inhibits behavior and promotes planning and thinking before acting.

It’s important to show the introverts in your life that you support them. Here are a few tips that can help:

  1. Respect – Show the introvert in your life that you respect him or her by not expecting them to change. Introverts often make changes in order to fit in, but they want to be accepted and respected for who they are, especially in their homes.
  2. Down time – When an introvert comes home from school or work, they usually need some down time. This may be sitting in their room alone, watching TV, or playing on their phone. Give them the freedom to do this before asking a million questions or telling them everything you did that day.
  3. Processing time – If you want to have a talk or discussion with an introvert, give them a heads up. Tell the introvert in your life what you would like to talk about and even tell them about specific questions. Introverts need time to process questions and think about their answers.


Aspen Education Group –

Getting The Love You Want: Part Two

In the first part of my blog about Dr. Harville Hendrix’s “Getting the Love You Want” we discussed what characteristics a person must have in order for us to fall in love with them. Long story short, the more characteristics a person has that are similar to our ‘lost selves’ the greater chance we will fall in love with them! We are looking for an original wholeness through our romantic relationships. To discover the ‘lost self’, a set of characteristics that are out of our awareness, one may look through the lens of the ‘false self’, the characteristics we identify with and as that protect the ‘lost self’.

Jill Baumgarner,  Pre-Graduate Student Intern Supervised by Kirby Sandlin, LMFT, LPC

By: Jill Baumgarner,
Pre-Graduate Student Intern
Supervised by
Kirby Sandlin, LMFT, LPC

Now that you know all of this useful information, you are ready to learn about our love “blueprint”, our Imago! The Imago, as Dr. Hendrix describes, is the ideal mate image that you have been forming since birth and is directly constructed out of those who influenced you most strongly at an early age.

Lets back up a second. I know some of you may be asking “You’re expecting me to believe that I feel in love with my partner because they resemble my parents? No way, I chose my partner because he/she is the exact opposite!” And yes, I am asking you to believe that. Here’s why…

The part of our brain that was encoding exorbitant amounts of information, about our caretakers and our surroundings, as we entered the world is what we call the ‘old brain’. The ‘old brain’ primary care is our survival, it functions out of our awareness and it’s not in contact with the external world, the ‘new brain’ is. The ‘new brain’ holds our consciousness. It’s responsible for higher-order thinking, emotional regulation, planning, decision-making, and all the other wonderful things that make our species different from all other mammals; it’s what makes us human.

We want to know all of this because our old brain holds the key to the question “why do we fall in love with people who posses the same characteristics as our parents?” Essentially, the old brain is searching, out of our awareness, for people that resemble our caretakers in order to recreate the environment of childhood. The old brain is also very stubborn; it doesn’t participate in the new brain ways of ‘letting go’ and ‘moving on’. It’s ultimate goal is to mend childhood wounds by trying to replay those situations with romantic partners. Your brain has your partner confused with your parents!! Whatever psychological and emotional damage you endured as a child, your old brain wants to mend. It looks for romantic partners who carry some of the most influential positive and negative characteristics of our parents, which also created our own ‘lost and false self’, and then, we fall in love.

On the next part of the blog, I will discuss how to create your own Imago blueprint and how to discover which positive and negative traits of our caregivers influence us the most.

Holiday Traditions: Yours, Mine, and Ours

The holidays are supposed to be full of fun and exciting times spent with family and friends, right? This is usually the case, but sometimes being overly scheduled can become more of a pain then a joy. Between the planning, shopping, traveling, and cooking it all becomes stressful. One big part of holiday stress is trying to decide where to spend the holidays. In hopes of helping reduce the holiday stress, here are a few tips to help you and your partner decide.

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

  1. Don’t commit to anything before talking about it – your parents might call and suddenly you feel guilty and you commit to spending Christmas at your parent’s house and on the same day your partner confirms with his or her grandmother. Simply telling your family that you want to check before confirming will hopefully work, if it doesn’t, don’t give up. By not confirming with either family, you can take the time to discuss your wants and needs without hurting any feelings.
  2. Discuss your priorities – If you have an ill family member, then spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with them might become a priority. Your finances and busy schedules can also determine how you spend your holidays or if you decide to stay home.
  3. Try alternating – Alternating holidays can make it easier for both families to plan as well. If you spend Thanksgiving with your parents, then spending Christmas or Hanukah with your in laws would be nice for your partner. The following year you can switch. Alternating holidays can also help you plan your schedules and finances through the end of the year.
  4. Talk about your favorite traditions as a kid or come up with your own – On occasion, you might prefer to spend the holidays at home with just you and the kids (or just the two of you). You can take this time to talk about your favorite traditions as a kid. Tell your favorite stories or why these traditions mean so much to you and why you want to incorporate them. If you don’t have any traditions you want to incorporate, take some time to come up with your own. Get the kids involved as well. You can sing carols, decorate cookies, or volunteer in your community.
  5. Be Flexible – You might spend the whole year planning to go to your parents for Thanksgiving, then the last minute, something comes up and you have to cancel. It might not work out this year, but you can always plan an extra trip in a few months or plan for your parents to come visit you.

Family Traditions

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