An Easy Guide to CBT for A Better Life at Home

You’re irritated. You feel unacknowledged by your spouse. Your child is fussy. Bills are unpaid. Your home is messy. In laws (enough said). School tuition.

You’ve likely experienced the above mentioned. And when it boils over, you erupt on the ones you love. Are you blushing yet?

This is normal. Not polite, but its normal. Many people find turbulence in their relationships as a result of environmental triggers. It effects the whole family, kids included.

For this, Therapists have turned to a method of personal thought control called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

What is it?

Simply put, your thoughts translate to behaviors. Did you know this? For example, if your spouse didn’t clean the kitchen, your thought is that he/she was lazy or didn’t care.

You might react by confronting them without having additional information to go on. What now?

You continue berating them. They defend themselves providing you with their excuses. Damn, they sound like they’re telling the truth! But you can’t back down, you’re already engaged.

You continue. They fire back, and things get nasty. The next 48 hours of your lives will be spent in silence or apart from one another.

This situation was caused initially by a pattern of thinking that many of us are guilty of. Another way of looking at it, you jumped to conclusions. CBT aims at changing the way you think by training you to become more aware of your thoughts.

Did you know…

That we experience over 60,000 thoughts a day and 90 percent of them are identical to day before? A study will confirm that we are terribly habit forming in the way we think, and the impact our thoughts may have on us.

Another great resource is Psychology Today and their methods of avoiding negative thoughts.

Dealing with the stress of life and family can feel endless. But the methods below outline my personal experience of alleviating said stress and bringing you back to a state of peace.

Try them out.

  1. Meditate

I’ve harped on this in the past, but meditation is a great way to observe your thoughts. By counting your breaths and body scanning (being aware of the physical sensations you experience) you become more aware of how you’re feeling in any given moment. Here are some methods of meditations worth your while.

If you’re able to identify the moment you’re feeling triggered, you’ll develop the ability to control your anger and other impulsive reactions.

2. Keep a Journal

You’ve probably heard keeping a journal benefits those experiencing triggers such as a frustrating friend or spouse. Tracking your thoughts can significantly help when you’re overwrought.

Each day, write down the date and times when you experience anger, frustration etc.

Document the way you reacted. This will assist you in developing patterns of behavior and predict under what circumstances you’ll react. Having this insight will allow you to prevent an unwanted argument.

3. Work Out

No doctor would recommend poor nutrition and a sloth existence. Get up, get out, and move your ass. Hit the gym, take hikes, ride a bike, box, play basketball, whatever.

Placing your body under physical stress prepares you for emotional and psychological stress.

In short, CBT is a trial and error thing – you’ll need to work at it for a while, try what works and what doesn’t to find your sweet spot. Keep at it. Don’t quit, and use your family as motivation.

Top 4 Kid’s Books for Your Little One AND You

It’s a challenge finding a book ( or several ) that your child likes. “How about A bears year?”

“No!” and they reach for the brightest colored cover with zero learning value.

Sound familiar?

It’s even harder discovering children’s books that won’t drive you insane after the 80th time reading it.  Isn’t it time you settled on a set of books suitable for you and your little one?

Try the four below this evening- they’re must-haves for your bookshelf.

  1.  A Bears Year

Written by Kathy Duval, this story follows a bear family as they wake from hibernation. The book spans across spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Each season, the mother bear prepares her cubs for the approaching winter by passing vital skills of climbing for honey and catching fish to her cubs.

The story emphasizes preparation for oncoming adversity and illustrates beautifully the natural world.

The color motifs stand out – patterns of green, gold, yellow, red, and snowy white and gray. It’s a perfect arch following the rise and fall of temperature, of plants and trees, and forest life.

As an adult, I can appreciate the inherent message. The story is sweet and genuine, and for a kid’s book, very impactful!

2. Good Night Moon

Some books stand the test of time. Goodnight moon has got to be the ultimate go to sleep story for my son.

It was even my favorite book when I was his age. If you’re unfamiliar, the story is simple – a little rabbit is winding down for bed and the narrator gently says goodnight to several objects in and out of the room.

It’s soft, gentle, and leads your child to the pillow after a long day of learning.

3.  Never Touch a Dragon

This fun short book explores the alternatives to touching a dragon. The kicker is, each illustration of a dragon has a tactile element. For example, a bumpy rubber piece that kids can run their fingers over, covering the dragon’s body.

The book gives kids the experience of interacting with the story by touch, and the illustration is done in a funny way that’ll keep you ( the adult) entertained. Try it out tonight!

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Kind of like Good Night Moon, the Very Hungry Caterpillar has been around for decades and has the same charm it had at its conception.

A little caterpillar hatches from his egg in the light of the moon. He explores the world hungry and eats his way through a wad of ice cream, pickles, cheese, and salami.

There’s a message about overindulgence and the consequences of it. He later eats a leaf and feels much better, and then, spoiler alert, he becomes a butterfly!

The illustrations, I think, are one component that holds your child’s attention. With bright greens, oranges, reds, and yellows, all done like a cute finger painting, your child will relate.

The moral of the story doesn’t go unnoticed that we all over do it some times, and there are often repercussions. Try reading this story at bedtime and after a nice bath for an easier, calmer evening.

These are just my suggestions, but they seem to work well with my boy. Based on the reviews of these books, others seem to agree. But it’s a trial and error kind of thing, you may spend time on Amazon, a lot of time, trying to select the right story, so patience is key!

4 Ways to Make Your Baby Laugh at Home.

One reason parenting can wear you out is your child’s need for constant entertainment. There’re moments when I fall flat and he remains straight-faced, others result in an eruption of acute laughter. Most often, I run dry of comedic material; there are only so many funny faces, weird dances, and puppet shows I can do before my will gives out. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, try some of the ideas below and you might have your little one laughing up a storm!

Use the mirror 

Our little guy loves the mirror- staring at it, making faces, pointing out people. Try asking “where is daddy?” (or mommy)

Make faces and funny hand gestures. Use puppets, toy cars etc. I pay the guitar, so I’ll plug in and play a song and he loves watching for some reason as I stand behind him.

Peek-a-boo 3.0 

Most kids like to play peekaboo, but you can upgrade if you’d like, to a full-blown hide and seek. Try hiding around the corner or in a dark room and call your kid in (make sure you have them engaged and that they understand you’re playing a game).

When they come looking for you, leap out and surprise him/her, then go run to the next room and let them chase you.


Pull out your phone and start filming everything. My son has a fascination with seeing himself on camera and seeing daddy there too. In fact, there is an old video of him as a baby laughing on his back that he still finds hilarious.

Baby in the Box 

Get a box that he/she can crouch down into and hide. This also serves as a form of peek-a-boo. You can surprise them as they pop up. Try putting the box on his/her head and see how they react. Our son is intrigued by random objects, despite his mountain of electronic toys.







Humiliation; the catylist of violence


Humiliation,  Steven Kotkins writes in his historical biography Stalin, does often serve as the wellspring of savagery. Here, we see the young Stalin, whose real name was Josef Jugashvili, as a boy oppressed by the orthodox seminary who lived constantly at the receiving end of a drunk, abusive father. Raised on the outskirts of the Russian Empire in the small town of Gori Georgia, Jugashvili seemed torn by an unusual family dynamic of an exalting mother, an aloof father, and several childhood accidents, as well as illnesses, that lead him to become rather effortlessly, despite his peculiarly small stature, tougher than the average boys of the region. This would serve as history’s best reflection of the future dictator’s ruthless seedbed, leading to the violence that would later ensue upon Russia.

However, accurate or not, it does speak to a greater truth, particularly in our way of raising children that rings with me as a father, and should force any morally serious person to question the effect of humiliation on others, that the effect may remain potent with the individual years after the fact. Linda Hartling, Ph.D. shows us in her Humiliation Inventory ((Hartling, 1996; Hartling & Luchetta, 1999) “ I found that those with high scores on the scale described their experiences of humiliation as if it had happened yesterday, even though the experience may have occurred many, many years in the past. Their experiences remained painfully fresh and vivid in their minds. Since then, I have wondered what mechanisms contribute to the potency of humiliation. What keeps humiliation present in our lives?”

The grim nature of humiliation on the brain is more startling. The way you feel derives from the way you think, according to the cognitive theories of emotion. When one is lowered in status in front of others, he/she is likely to feel humiliated and, according to Linda Hartling’s study, they will clutch these feelings for years as though it had happened the day before. This causes one to be susceptible to triggers, as it will remain so fresh in the mind if the pattern of thinking isn’t changed. But could humiliation lead to the same spring of vengeance and violence seen under Stalin’s reign? It would appear the answer rests in the chemistry of the brain. Hartling goes on to cite other studies which observe that “ social pain triggers some of the same mechanisms and responses in the brain as physical pain.”  Additionally, a study was conducted which involved participants who were under the belief that they were playing a virtual ball-tossing game. “In actuality, there were no other players involved. To create the illusion of an interactive game, a computer generated the actions of the other players to include the participant in one round and to exclude the participant in another round.

Excluded participants showed increased activity in the dorsal ACC, which was strongly correlated with the participants’ self-reports of social distress—“how rejected, excluded, meaningless they felt.” ACC refers to the Agenesis of the corpus callosum, which also seems to activate in response to physical pain. These studies indicate a direct correlation in the brain, a lingering presence humiliation has in one’s recollection, and the profound effect exclusion may have on humans socially. Imagining for a moment, the numerous childhood incidents when you were excluded from a group, and these feelings of degradation, justifiable as they are, have remained with you your whole life. Are they linked to lack of self-awareness, leading to violence? Hartling explains, “Based on these studies of social exclusion and the brain research on social pain, we can hypothesize a pathway along which humiliation progresses toward aggression. In theory, humiliation may trigger social pain activating the alarm system of the brain leading to decreased self-awareness in the form of a deconstructed state, which includes emotional numbness.”

She goes on to reflect the experience of the individual by referencing the alienation of Muslim immigrants in France, leading to riots and racial lash-outs. It’s sobering to imagine the circumstances in schools and communities, and the social pain absorbed by adolescence. These circumstances aren’t left without a solution, as Hartling hypothesizes “Humiliation is a relational violation that profoundly damages one’s sense of connection and triggers social pain,” and that violence is a direct result of the loss of self-awareness, and this occurs through social pain caused by exclusion. The human connection seems to be the key to breaking the cycles of social pain. So although violence isn’t the inevitable end for the individual experiencing humiliation, it does inflict damage to he/she and should be understood by today’s leaders, teachers, and parents that social connection and inclusion are key to disrupting the patterns of social pain, especially in youth.

Swensen’s Ice Cream


Under the surface of tech money and development, one SF landmark still remains intact and is well worth visiting for the Sweet Tooth. Located at Hyde and Union Street, Swensen’s Ice Cream has been scooping its own tasty brand Ice Cream since 1948. We first discovered this spot only recently. What I like is that it’s the original site where Earle Swensen established his parlor and famously lives up to its saying “Just like Dad used to Make” as it carries with it, as pictured below, the decadent, glamours feeling of the 1940s.


Swensen’s offers every flavor from Toasted Almond to Green Mint Chocolate Chip. But I would recommend the Green Tea Pictured below.  The location is perfect for tourists ( if you happen to be one) as it’s one of many establishments along the iconic SF Cable Car line. Even if you’ve lived in SF for a while, you may not have heard of it, but it lives up to its reputation.


The Marina District, San Francisco

By Jason Kaefer

The upscale Marina District of San Francisco captivates tourists in a blend of old-school meets new money, and it’s located at the northern tip of the city within walking distance of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Parking is a challenge any day of the week in SF so I would recommend the side streets near the Palace of fine arts (pictured below).

From here, you and/or your family can walk to a number of places – one being the impressive Palace of Fine Arts.

One of the most beautiful sights in San Francisco located at 3601 Lyon Street, the Palace of Fine Arts is like something out of Ancient Rome as its built around a small, artificial lagoon (pictured below). In fact, this was the idea behind the architecture, to give the feeling of classical Europe, and few would disagree.


Upward view of the Rotunda lining the interior of the monumental dome.

The Lagoon
Around the lagoon, there are turtles, swans, and ducks basking and gliding the surface.

Originally constructed in 1915, the Palace was at the heart of the Panama Pacific Exhibition, and was designed by Bernard Maybeck, who was influenced by Roman and Ancient Greek. Over the years, the palace has undergone dramatic changes.  For example, during WW2, it was used for storage of military artillery and in the early 1960’s, the palace was torn almost completely down, leaving only the steel structure of the exhibit hall.

You’ll get the feeling of standing somewhere in Italy, with its domed structure and reflective lagoon surface, echoing a rich European past. And did I mention the history? Check out the old-school photo below.


As I mentioned above, you are within walking distance of several recommended locations. One of which is the Wave Organ, a giant concrete structure designed to catch the melody of the tides. Each concrete tube (pictured below), works like an organ pipe, amplifying the sound of the water in a gentle whistle. Once there, you get a panoramic view of the SF Bay. The feeling here is peaceful and quiet while the soft sounds of the bay travel through the Organ.

An example of a sound station and two pipe mouths built into stone projecting hisses and sloshing and whistling.

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Advice for parents, pack light and warm. San Francisco is notorious for its wind and the wave organ is no exception, especially considering its location on the Bay, fully exposed, no shade. Hoodies and sweatshirt are a must, and I would recommend sunscreen in the summer months, sunburns will sneak up.