Hidden Barriers to Happiness Blog

Have you always wondered about the invisible forces that affect your health, wealth and happiness?

As a neuroscientist, and then neuro and nutritional epidemiologist, I researched the underlying causes of mental and health problems.  Now as a Holistic Brain Health Practitioner, I regularly make new discoveries while working with clients.

Curious?   Sign up to get my Top 10 Tips for a Happy & Healthy Brain.  You’ll also get 2-4 newsletters month about the hidden barriers that get in the way of the life you really want!

What are you waiting for?  Knowledge is power!

Can a Narcissist Change?

Posted by on Nov 15, 2018 in abuse, narcissists, toxic relationships | 0 comments

Can a Narcissist Change?

My client Betty is always positive, kind and good-natured.  She asked me to work on some physical discomfort she was having.  But I always ask if I can check in with the subconscious to make sure there isn’t anything more important to address.   She agreed, and I discovered there was an issue at work that was causing a lot of stress.

Her coworker was harassing her.

Betty then revealed to me that a coworker was regularly coming to her cubicle to criticize or make negative comments about her work.   This coworker was also frequently making complaints about her to management.   She felt like she was walking on eggshells with this coworker.  The situation was so stressful, that she was even considering quitting, even though she loved her job otherwise!

She already had a reputation for being difficult.

Before Betty had arrived at this job just a few months ago, this coworker had already had a reputation for being difficult to work with.   Apparently several other coworkers had asked management for a reassignment from working with this woman, because she was known to be so critical!

Was she dealing with a narcissist?

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How to Extract Yourself From the Scarcity Trap

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in Abundance, money | 0 comments

How to Extract Yourself From the Scarcity Trap

Nancy grew up in a lower middle class family, where she was taught that there was never enough.  While the family could afford to buy a home, and her parents could afford to travel, when it came to her needs, she was regularly told that there wasn’t enough.  Her parents claimed to not have enough to buy her a mattress that sank in the middle, a desk, clothes or supplies for school, and that there wasn’t enough to go to a good college.   Yet she had heard her financial advisors tell her parents that they were in good shape with their financial goals to retire, and had plenty for their children’s college.

Nancy wanted a job to pay for the things she needed, but her parents only let her work during the summers.

So Nancy grew up with the mindset that it would always be hard to get what she needed.   She worked extremely hard in school, and then in her jobs, but kept ending up in jobs with unsupportive bosses, who she could never seem to please.   Her life as an adult essentially mimicked that of her experience as a child.  She felt she would always have to struggle to get her needs met, and that she frequently panicked about not having enough, or running out of money.

Nancy was in the scarcity trap.

How scarcity affects your mind:

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From Couch Potato to Gym Bunny

Posted by on Oct 15, 2018 in exercise, habits, motivation, sabotage | 0 comments

From Couch Potato to Gym Bunny

My client was getting married in a year, and desperately wanted to be in shape before her wedding.  She knew that one of her biggest challenges in losing weight was that she had no motivation to exercise.  The last time she had been to the gym was 3 years ago.  She recalled that she did not want to be there, and couldn’t wait until it was over!  It had been about 10 years since she had exercised regularly.

She never knew her dad, but had inherited her dad’s lack of desire in being healthy.  After releasing it, I asked her how she felt about working out, and she said neutral, which often happens before they’ve had a chance to process the work.

The following week, she told me that as she was driving home from her appointment with me, she felt this sudden urge (more…)

You Are Not Your Diagnosis

Posted by on Sep 30, 2018 in beliefs, growth, mindset, Uncategorized | 0 comments

You Are Not Your Diagnosis

I had a client who regularly reminded me of her diagnoses to justify her behaviors and struggles.  “I have bipolar disorder, and therefore I… “ ,  “I have autism, and therefore I…. “.   I’ve heard other mental health professionals rail against giving people diagnoses.  They’ve argued that it isn’t helpful, because labeling people, makes them feel limited by their diagnosis.

I told my client:   You are not your diagnosis!

I remember how relieved I was when (more…)

Reviving from Failure to Thrive

Posted by on Sep 15, 2018 in anxiety, fear, happiness, mental health, motivation | 0 comments

Reviving from Failure to Thrive

John would lock himself in his apartment for days, not talking to anyone.  After not being able to reach him for days, his mom stopped by his apartment and found pizza boxes and empty cans of coke and pepsi strewn throughout the apartment.  The place reeked with his body oder, moldy food and urine.

John had been struggling with severe mental health challenges for entire life.  In addition to depression, he had autism and oppositional defiance disorder.  He had a habit of alienating everyone he met, and so he was lonely and uninterested in life.  He was 385 Ibs, sedentary, and had diabetes.

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Seven Questions to Create a Meaningful Life

Posted by on Aug 30, 2018 in growth, meaningful life, success | 0 comments

Seven Questions to Create a Meaningful Life

For decades, I was taught that I needed to accept what I could not change and have the wisdom to know the difference.    Despite years as a graduate student in Neuroscience and post doctoral fellowships in psychiatric epidemiology at the most prestigious medical schools in the country, whenever I saw a doctor or counselor at these same institutions, more often than not, I would be either told my problem wasn’t real, or that I just had to learn to accept it.

I had become disillusioned with Western medicine when I realized how little coursework my colleagues were getting in nutrition and lifestyle management, and how much coursework was dedicated to pharmacology.   There seemed to be an underlying motive in Western medicine that made me uncomfortable,  (more…)

How Ancestral Trauma and Behavior Affect Us

Posted by on Aug 15, 2018 in behavior, epigenetics | 0 comments

How Ancestral Trauma and Behavior Affect Us

A client of mine has Parkinson’s disease.  While eliminating underlying causes, we discovered she had repressed anger that she had inherited from her great-grandmother.   In asking questions of her subconscious, I got that her great-grandmother was angry about her illness.  I then discovered her great-grandfather shared the same ancestral trauma around his wife’s illness.  My client who had traced her ancestry then revealed  (more…)

Why It is So Important to Take the Time to Just Be

Posted by on Jul 30, 2018 in healthy brain, mental health, stress | 0 comments

Why It is So Important to Take the Time to Just Be

My friend practices Vipassana meditation and is off to a meditation retreat this weekend.  He invited me to go, but I still have a lot of unpacking to do, and I don’t feel like I can get away for a whole weekend.

This conflict remind me of the conflict between being vs. doing.

I used to be hyper focused on doing.  My list of things to do has always been longer than I have had time to complete.   But because I didn’t take the time to renew, I wasn’t enjoying life, and I wasn’t very productive while working.

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A Most Unusual Underlying Cause of Disorganization

Posted by on Jul 15, 2018 in healthy brain, organizing | 0 comments

A Most Unusual Underlying Cause of Disorganization

My client was a successful professional organizer.  I had known her for years, and she had taken a leadership role in an organization that we were both a part of.  She had played a key role in making it run smoothly   So I was surprised to see that on the day of her appointment, she called to cancel because she had double booked her appointments.  She rescheduled, and again she had to reshuffle things, but this time she made seeing me a priority.  This was not the organized professional I knew her to be!

In her session, I asked about what was going on, and why she was struggling with organizing, and she confessed to feeling particularly scatterbrained lately.  She said she had really been struggling to keep her calendar straight over the last few weeks, and that it was interfering with her ability to do her job.   As an organizer, she said that she was in her words, “a mess” and very embarrassed about it.

We had to make addressing this a priority.  (more…)

Ten Consequences of Childhood Neglect

Posted by on Jun 30, 2018 in childhood experiences, childhood trauma, subconscious barriers | 2 comments

Ten Consequences of Childhood Neglect

Like most empaths, I have been deeply disturbed by the separation of immigrant children from their families at the border. The impact of childhood neglect can be profound.  I know this from Harlow’s research on baby monkeys, the studies of children in orphanages, by the work I’ve done with clients and my own history of neglect.   I have been worried about the lifelong psychological damage this could do to these children, the impact it will have on their ability to feel safe in this world, their ability to trust and form healthy relationships, their growth, their ability to function when they get back to school and depending on how long they are separated, their survival.

Back in the 1950’s Harry Harlow performed experiments on baby monkeys where he took them from their mothers and other infants.   These monkeys could no longer securely attach to other monkeys and their ability to socialize was severely disrupted.  If the isolation lasted beyond 90 days, the effects were irreversible.

childhood neglect at abandoned orphanagesMore recently, Nathan Fox and colleagues studied childhood neglect by comparing young children (ages 6 months to 3 years) in Bucharest who were reared in a Romanian orphanage vs. those when were put in foster homes.    In the Romanian orphanages, babies were left in cribs all day, except when fed, diapered or bathed on a set schedule.  The neglected children in orphanages had a myriad of problems, ranging from cognitive deficits, to difficulty regulating emotions, social withdrawal, low self-esteem, to tics, tantrums, and stealing,

As a healer, I’ve seen these problems with clients who’s parents were emotionally unavailable.  As for my own healing journey, I’ve become increasingly aware that my lifelong struggles which sound a lot like the Romanian orphans (minus the tics and stealing) are likely due to many years of emotional neglect that I had growing up.

Given that I use the wisdom of the subconscious to get straight to the root causes of problems, I thought it would be of interest to share what I’ve learned about the consequences of childhood neglect from my experience as a healer.

Here are 10 major consequences that I have seen of early life neglect:

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