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Traci Stein

Traci Stein

Traci Stein, PhD, MPH, is a practicing psychotherapist and Columbia-trained
clinical psychologist, ASCH-certified in clinical hypnotherapy. She has combined integrative therapies, including hypnosis, with conventional medical and psychotherapy practice. Her passionate commitment to mind-body healing has spanned two decades.

I'm honored to guest blog for Belleruth while she travels this week. It is National Bullying Prevention Month, and for this column I decided to talk about extremely common forms of "self-bullying" – "fat talk" and body shaming. Both of these are unfortunately common and at odds with the expectation that we should treat everyone – ourselves included - with respect, compassion, and kindness.

As a woman, I'm struck by how often we criticize ourselves for being "too much of this" and "not enough of that." It is so ingrained for us to feel we must not take up too much space – literally or metaphorically. We criticize ourselves for the normal, largely unavoidable effects of aging, or for having bodies that differ from the airbrushed images we see in the media. We find fault with ourselves even despite objective information to the contrary.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 00:00

A New Free Report: Ten Keys for Kicking Your Habit

Hello all, and happy Fall! This is my favorite time of year for many reasons: the air is becoming crisp, leaves are turning, and children are gearing up for the new school year. I always feel more energized and ready to get back in the swing of things once the lazy days of summer have begun to fade. Both literally and metaphorically, fall is a time for shedding whatever has run its course to make way for new growth.

kicking-habit2Fall is the perfect time for reevaluating whether a particular habit, behavior, or outlook really serves us best in the now, or whether it is time to make meaningful change.

If you're like me, you probably have a running list of things you'd like to tweak a little, or change completely. On my to do list right now: get more exercise, eat fewer refined foods, bring my lunch more often, reduce my salt intake, increase the duration of my meditation sessions, be more patient, and so forth. As always, there are things I want to do less of and things I want to do more of.

What helps me, and I hope is helpful to you, is remembering that it's not about perfection (there really is no such thing, anyway), or about accomplishing everything at once. Our lives really are about the journey, rather than immediately reaching any specific destination.

Happy Earth Day, and Happy Spring to all! I am grateful for Spring’s arrival for a number of reasons.  Spring provides us with a much-needed break from what has been a very long, cold winter in much of the country. Symbolically, Spring represents new life, growth and positive change on so many levels after having shed whatever Nature deemed necessary during Fall. It also ushers in longer, brighter days and a delight in being outside after the winter hibernation. Now, each tiny seedling sprouting forth from the earth invites us to appreciate the beauty and change all around us.

Spring also is a time for personal housekeeping and sprucing things up – both literally and metaphorically. Sometimes this means taking stock of where we are with regard to relationships, old patterns, our health, and how we spend the bulk of our time. We can then lovingly tend to what needs nurturing, prune what belongs in the past, and sow the seeds of the changes we desire.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:22

Scents, Sense and a Journey to the Land of OZ

Almost before we consciously register a note, scents have the power to evoke another time for us, another way of being. I have long since stopped wearing perfume, but every time I smell anything by Estee Lauder, I can immediately identify it, so strongly have their fragrances been linked to memories of my maternal grandmother and her sisters – all women who were very influential in my upbringing. The link exists exclusively of any liking or not – even the perfumes I actively dislike are immediately and paradoxically associated with feelings of being cared for.

Monday, 19 August 2013 12:53

Embracing What Makes Us Different

Although it is still technically “summer time,” a few leaves have already begun to dry and fall from the trees in the New York City parks, the daytime sun has given way to a crisp nighttime temperature of 60-something degrees, and I have resumed the almost daily ritual of packing a light sweater in my bag “just in case.” As such, many of you have probably witnessed the re-emergence of that notorious TV commercial, with those kids -- dread-filled, feet dragging, frowns pronounced – trailing the giddy parent who skips through the school-supply aisle to the tune, “It’s the most wonderful time…of the year!”

All joking aside, for everyone, the start of the school year elicits something different. Certainly, there are those kids (and adults) who unequivocally enjoy the opportunity to connect socially and the academic stimulation of being in school. For others, this time of year can highlight feelings of “otherness” or social awkwardness, as well as struggles to complete schoolwork well, on time, or at all. The latter can result from difficulties in paying attention, diagnosable learning disorders, anxiety, poor self-esteem, or some combination of the above. In addition, challenges with schoolwork can serve to exacerbate all of these issues, resulting in a vicious cycle of distress and poorer performance.

Monday, 17 June 2013 10:46

Building Healthy Self-Esteem

One summer afternoon, many years ago, a colleague of mine confided to me, “I have really, really ugly legs. Bad, bad-looking knees.” We were sitting in the hospital garden having lunch and talking about work, and I wasn't sure I’d heard her correctly. By most accounts, this woman had a bubbly personality, a sunny smile, and a pretty normal looking body (whatever that means). She was also professionally accomplished, had a loving family, etc. etc. To be quite honest, she had worn a skirt to work on a number of occasions, and I had never noticed her legs one way or the other. Quickly I glanced down at them, and then looked her in the eyes. I said, with no flattery intended, “I really don’t see what you’re talking about.” Mind you, I was probably much more aware of my hair at that moment – which was an odd combination of flatness and frizz from the humidity, a stray tendril clinging moistly to my temple. Not exactly my most camera-ready look.  I’ve had lifelong hair angst, but have surrendered to the fact that it will never be thick, lustrous, well-behaved, shampoo-ad type of hair. And at this point, it doesn’t really bother me all that much. Truly. But it did throughout my adolescence and teens and probably through college as well. I tortured it with highlights and perms and had numerous hair disasters along the way.

Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:00

Finding Opportunities for Self Reflection

First, hello to all. I find that holidays and the New Year are great opportunities for self-reflection and meaningful change. We may think of this as something that is necessarily dramatic or large, or immediately observable to others, but often the most profound changes involve subtle but important shifts in how we treat ourselves, or how much space we create to accept ourselves in the present moment, even if there are things we’d like to be different. Once we can be more loving and kind to ourselves, the other changes seem to become that much easier.

Sunday, 03 February 2013 00:00

Freeing Ourselves From Procrastination

This is a perfect time of the year to talk about setting goals and actually achieving them. An arch nemesis, procrastination, is ubiquitous, however. Nearly all of us procrastinate some of the time, and some of us do it nearly all of the time. Chronic procrastination can cause significant problems for us.

In order to conquer procrastination, it’s important to understand what it is and isn’t, why people procrastinate, and ultimately, what we can do to get things done.

What is (and isn’t) Procrastination?

Put simply, procrastination is putting off either starting or completing something that we’ve consciously agreed to do.

It’s worth noting that procrastination is different from choosing to begin a project at a later time either because there is adequate time to do so, or because the benefits of putting off a task outweigh the costs of doing it right away.

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