John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD


Pointing out the beauty of autumn –- could I be any more cliche?

And yet how can we fail to notice the transformation that will be happening over the next few weeks? It’s as if the season was made to remind us to use our senses. The red and yellow leaves, the slanted light. The sound of leaves crunching under foot. The scent of burning leaves in the distance.

Autumn is a season to be savored.

When we are depressed or anxious, we ruminate, brood, or worry. We are way up in our heads. But when we are mindful, we are right here, right now. We are present to the moment. We are open to the information our senses are giving us.

Think about the last time you felt fully alive or energized. I’ll bet you weren’t caught up in your head then. If were fully engaged in something –– fully alive –– you were completely in the now. Full engagement leaves little room for brooding about the past or worrying about the future. Full engagement keeps us right where we happen to be.

Do you know what mindfulness is? Here's a simple definition: "Awareness of the present moment –- with acceptance." Sometimes we need to be aware of our internal environment, our thoughts and feelings and dreams. But other times we need to be aware of the world around us. Autumn is a built-in opportunity to be more mindful, is it not?

So take that color tour. Or that long drive on a weekend afternoon. Or take a walk outdoors.

Think less, sense more. That maybe just the vacation your over-worked mind needs.

We Need More Grownups

A grownup is careful not to make too many excuses when things go wrong. She takes responsibility for her actions. If she makes a mistake, or is late, or is unprepared, she doesn’t make excuses. It’s tempting to blame others (or the situation) for her lapses, but a grownup holds herself accountable.

A grownup does his fair share. While it’s tempting to let others do his work for him, a grownup readily pitches in whenever there’s work to do, and let’s face it, there’s always work to do. A grownup knows that if he doesn’t do his fair share the people around him–-spouses, partners, siblings, coworkers, friends––will eventually feel resentful. This, in turn, will sour or even poison a relationship.

A grownup does her best to make sound judgments. Like everybody else, she feels the press of impulses, the wish for instant gratification, the temptation to ignore long-term consequences. But a grownup tries to balance reason and emotion, want and need, impulse and thought.

There are plenty of people in this world who fit the age requirement of being an adult. But what really need is more grownups.

No Silver Bullets

A silver bullet has come to be a metaphor for the idea of having single solution that creates maximum results. But when it comes to stress, personal problems, symptom relief, or maladaptive patterns, there are no silver bullets.

In therapy, we pay attention to the particulars of your unique psychology. Perceptions, thoughts, feelings, motivations, beliefs, fears, wishes, dreams, personal history, relationships –- these are just some of the elements that may be contributing to your distress. Because your psyche is so complex, solutions to your problems, whatever they are, are unlikely to be simple.


Admittedly, I’ve had a blog lapse. (It’s been a busy year.)

But this one is for current, past, and future clients: I will be out of the office for the last week of November. I will not be taking phone calls or responding to e-mails.

Radio silence, in other words.

We are traveling.