The Celebrity Therapist

2 Moms and a Mic

2 Moms and a Mic ?2 Moms and a Mic

Get Ready as I join 2 MOMS AND A MIC August 11, 2010 tune in 1400 to discuss Love Addiction and Adolescents


 We live in a time of great worry. Our minds, hearts and stomachs have trouble settling, slowing down and finding peace. From one perspective, we have good cause for concern. The economy’s unpredictability stirs anxiety about our ability to provide for our families in the most basic ways: food, shelter, clothes. And every day a new report informs us that the food we are eating will, in all likelihood, make us sick, if not eventually kill us.


It’s no surprise then that many are finding comfort in their old friend alcohol or marijuana, or whatever addiction numbs the depression and anxiety that has settled in. But this provides no long-term solution; it simply distracts you for a little while.


But the real solution is simple–literally. Slow down. Take a deep breath and begin to adopt both a healthier perspective and healthier coping skills.


Focus on the simple things that still exist in our world today. We have trees we can stand under, flowers we can see and smell, and air we can breathe in deeply. And we can remind ourselves of our ability to choose our response to whatever is happening in our life. We can embrace anxiety and depression and addiction, or we can embrace the opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities and values, says Meredith Watkins, Editor of


Having less money can be a great blessing when it forces you to see more clearly what you need and what you can do without. Less stuff actually equals more freedom, because in some sense, our possessions do enslave us. Blackberries demand our constant attention, taking it away from our families and friends; enormous homes demand our time and energy at work to earn more money to pay the mortgage. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, the simple things are what bring the most joy and peace.


Challenge yourself to simplify your life where you can: go to a farmer’s market and make a home-cooked meal. Better yet, plant a garden. Turn off the TV and play games with your kids or read a book. Slow down, just a little, and take the time to truly be present in your life.


Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in private practice and on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.  She is also the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor and former chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, has been working with a concept he calls “flow.” The process of flow occurs when your consciousness matches your goals, allowing psychic energy to flow smoothly. For 40 years, Csikszentmihalyi has been studying what makes people happy, and has found that happiness comes from being in the flow in your life.

I certainly have been in the flow for the last three weeks while working on Celebrity Rehab doing what I love.  However, although I was in the flow, I certainly was not feeling balance.  It has been so great to have my time back.  You realize just how precious time is when you have none.  I enjoyed a Stevie Nicks concert with my daughter this week.  That was certainly an experience of being in the flow as I rocked out with my  daughter to her music,  transforming myself back to when I was 17 my first year of college at San Diego State Univeristy.  Some might say I was in a trance, but I would say I was definitely in the “flow.”

            You can listen to a talk he gave about this idea of flow at In it, he says, “There are seven conditions that seem to be there when a person is in flow. There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity, you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other, you get immediate feedback. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though it’s difficult. And a sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger. Once those conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.”

            When you are in the flow, your actions are natural, fluid, and graceful. Everything just feels “right.” So, of course, it’s not possible when you are behaving in a way that makes you feel guilt, shame, anxiety, or fearfulness. You can’t be caught up in adiction and be in the flow. And you can’t be caught up in blame or denial or furstration or anger.

            When you’re in the flow, in tune with your creative energies and your purpose, you feel it’s worth spending your life doing things for which you don’t expect either fame or fortune–as long as those things make your life meaningful. He writes in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, “It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”

            Flow comes about when you are challenged by something in an exciting way, and you feel your skills are up to the task. So it’s not about just sitting back and being comfortable; it’s about pushing yourself a little bit. He says being in a state of arousal is actually good, “Because you are over-challenged there. Your skills are not quite as high as they should be, but you can move into flow fairly easily by just developing a little more skill. So arousal is the area where most people learn from, because that’s where they’re pushed beyond their comfort zone  and … then they develop higher skills.”

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Psychotherapist and Life is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.

 Periods of change and transition can be stressful for most people. But for those grappling with an addiction, how you deal with change takes on even greater importance, since your addiction typically functions as your (maladaptive) coping mechanism in times of stress.

Applying acceptance and compassion can help you begin to shift negative responses to change. Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun and author, writes about both in her book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times:

“Compassionate action is a practice, one of the most advanced. There’s nothing more advanced than relating with others… To relate with others compassionately is a challenge. Really communicating to the heart and being there for someone else…means not shutting down on that person, which means, first of all, not shutting down on ourselves. This means allowing ourselves to feel what we feel and not pushing it away. It means accepting every aspect of ourselves, even the parts we don’t like. To do this requires openness, which in Buddhism is sometimes called emptiness — not fixating or holding on to anything. Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. Only in an open space where we’re not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who others really are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly.”

As Chodron stated, compassion is a practice. So is acceptance. This means they are not second-nature, so be patient with yourself in this process and, in time, it will get easier. These tools, once instilled, will continue to see you through each life transition you encounter with less distress and more grace according to Meredith Watkins, Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Editor of

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in Agoura Hills, CA.  She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Life Coach/Pychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.