Mating Matters: It’s Why We Do What We do!

Big news! I’m launching a new podcast called Mating Matters with iHeartMedia on Valentine’s Day week. Listen to it on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll hear:

MATING MATTERS: IT’S WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO!
Hosted by Psychologist and Relationship Guru, Dr. Wendy Walsh, Mating Matters explores the secret evolutionary motivation for virtually every human behavior. We are here to reproduce and behind everything is a desire to increase our mating opportunity. Producer: Brooke Peterson.

Season 1:

Episode #1. HIDDEN EGGS

Conceded fertility in humans has contributed to the sexual double standard, good Dads, and strippers who make more money when they ovulate.

 

Episode #2. THE TROUBLE WITH TESTOSTERONE

How this hormone, can affect a man’s ability to fall in love and increase death rates. Can a nose spray of oxytocin knock out testosterone and make men kinder?

 

Episode #3. THE GOD THAT CLUBS

The sex rules created by religions to increase reproduction and membership! Hint: the more punitive the God, the faster a religion grows.

 

Episode #4. DATING APPATHY

How dating apps can change your brain and bio-hack your evolutionary programming… unless you use them correctly.

 

Episode #5. WHAT IS LOVE? HOLLYWOOD KNOWS

Art imitates life. The science of falling in love involves biological, social and psychological mechanisms. Dr. Wendy breaks down the underpinnings of everyone’s favorite drug, love using vibrant examples from your favorite movies.

Episode #6. SEXY MONEY

How the pursuit of money is really pursuit of sex for men. And why it works in reverse for women. Why singles pay more for sexual opportunity than they do for rent. Why prostitution rates rise when women are disadvantaged and why the price of sex drops drastically when women rise in economic power.

 

https://news.iheart.com/apps/

Family Separation & Child Psychology

With the current news cycle spinning with stories of family separation with immigrant children detained at the US/Mexico border it seems a good time to break down attachment theory and the possible psychological injuries to separated children.

The idea that the quality and consistency of early life attachments — and parental separation — can shape adult personality, was first identified by John Bowlby, a British developmental psychologist and psychiatrist. In the 1930’s and 40’s germ theory became widespread and in a rush to protect sick children from possible exposure to biological infections, hospital’s began to bar families from visiting or touching and consoling children. John Bowlby was working in these hospital settings and witnessed the distress of family separation. Later, when the children were well enough to return home, parents reported that it was a “different” child who was returned to them, an unruly, dispassionate child. Thus were the roots of attachment theory.

Later, after World War II, the World Health Organization commissioned Bowlby to mount a study of children separated during wartime — Kinder Transport that moved Jewish Children from Nazi controlled areas and the London program that saw thousands of children sent out to the English countryside for their protection during London bombings.

These unlikely study subjects, along with orphans and foster children, have now been studied for decades  in relation to adult depression, anxiety, aggression, criminality, stress coping style, and even inflammation, obesity, alcoholism and heart disease. And the news isn’t good.

Having a solid, supportive, loving, parent-child attachment is crucial to a human’s mental and physical health. Abuse and separation in early life can change the human brain and alter an individual’s capacity to love. The trauma of parental separation can impact whether a child will finish high school, get a job, marry, commit domestic violence, serve time in prison, become an alcoholic or have a heart attack.

Are You Living Out Ancestor Trauma?

An area of psychological research that I am currently fascinated with is intergenerational psychology. It includes the idea that responses to pain and suffering can be transmitted genetically. I call it Ancestor Trauma. We’ve all heard that our genes may be loaded guns for physical ailments like heart disease and cancer. And certainly many mental health illnesses, like schizophrenia, have a genetic link. But what about run-of-the mill anxiety and depression? Could the roots of our fears and wacky responses to stress lie with our ancestors? The answer, it appears, is yes.

Most of the research to date has been done on worms, mice and rats, but one human study of holocaust survivors and their children shows some chilling results. A team at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital looked at the genes of thirty-two Jewish women and men who had been imprisoned in WWII concentration camps, were tortured, or lived in fear for years while hiding. Then they analyzed the genes of their children, adults in the United States who had never seen a war zone. The researchers found genetic changes in the gene that produces and monitors stress hormones — important because this influences how an individual reacts and copes with stress.

While genetic transmission of trauma is one piece of intergenerational psychology, a family system’s emotional communication — or lack there of — closes the deal. This is the clever beauty of the nature verses nurture debate. There is no debate. It’s always both. Our environment works to suppress or enliven our genes. I believe this is especially so during the transmission of ancestor trauma. Often parents and grandparents dismiss or minimize the trauma they experienced while silently giving emotional cues to the next generation. “Be careful! The world is unsafe!” The trauma eventually gives birth as unexplained anxiety, depression, poor coping mechanisms for stress and big-time relationship problems. And too often, one child, the “sensitive child”  is unknowingly nominated to carry the feelings of  grief and loss experienced by previous generations.

So how does one process and release ancient grief? Here are a few strategies:
  1. Explore your family history. Get the full story. Create a narrative for your feelings.
  2. Pay attention to your dreams. Keep a dream journal. Dreams are often the place where the pre-conscious material can be mined.
  3. Respect an identity crisis. Untangling a family’s emotional past might mean breaking codes of silence that may alienate you from family. A child speaks of the unspeakable when the parents and grandparents could not. There may be a period of separation and loss while you create a new self identity based on a healed narrative.
Believe you are the chosen one for Ancestor Trauma.

There is an honor in being the vessel for ancestor trauma. When we have been unconsciously asked to carry the pain of our ancestors into the future, whether that pain has been transmitted emotionally or through our DNA, we can gain strength by knowing we are the chosen one — the one who is strong and well enough to finish the emotional work of the past. By visiting any remnants of our ancestor’s trauma, we can break the chains and heal future generations. You are the chosen one. Go forward, knowing that your conscious mind will never allow what you can’t handle.

 

 

My Relationship With Food (And Why I Love the Keto Diet)

Here’s something you may not know about me. I love food. I love to eat. I’m even a trained cook, and I think of myself as a foodie, well, lately I call myself a Keto Diet foodie! Fortunately, as a lifelong exerciser, I could always eat anything I wanted. I’m one of those gym rats who actually loves sweating. I also am a member of the luck gene club – I’m an ectomorph, someone with a naturally lean body type. Basically I’m saying that I have the kind of body and metabolism that most women would kill for.

But recently I learned that I am also an unlucky recipient of another kind of gene. One that causes heart disease, stroke and cancer. This gene causes insulin resistance, not uncommon to menopausal women, and it’s probably the reason why my parents died near my age.

It all started late one Saturday afternoon a couple years ago. I had spent an invigorating day “gardening hard.” Now before you laugh, I was moving heavy potted trees, climbing to trim my vines and digging holes in stubborn root bound soil. I was gardening…. Hard. My work done, I had just poured myself an iced coffee and slathered a chucky layer of almond butter on a home-made piece of bread. Chewing on the last bite and scraping the sticky butter off the roof of my mouth, the strangest thing happened.

A sudden, massive pain in my chest just showed up out of nowhere.

Now this was new. An hour into the pain, with no relief from my yoga gyrations, antacids or bathroom acrobatics, the realization hit me that I would be spending the evening in the emergency room.

I’ll cut to the chase. I wasn’t having a heart attack. Instead I had a sizable gallstone that was making it’s way from my gall bladder to my intestine, and if I had let it, it would slip slide down to my pancreas and kill me. Again I am lucky. I live in a city with some of the best medicine in the world and I have TWO excellent insurance plans. Out came that gall bladder.

Now the average person would have stopped right there, happy to be free of the pain and comforted that no new gallstones could ever be formed again. But not this Brainy Barbie always curious to know the WHY behind everything. Down the medical rabbit’s hole I went. I wanted to know what caused gallstones in the first place. Hint: They are made of cholesterol. A mountain of lab reports later, I found myself sitting across from a pretty Irish cardiologist who told me I had dangerously high cholesterol and triglycerides and that I was in line for a major heart attack.

“What? Impossible!,” I protested “I’m a health nut. I eat low fat everything.”

“Your low-fat life may be the problem,” she sang in an Irish lilt. “That’s old news. It’s sugar and carbohydrate that cause high cholesterol. You need the keto diet.”

“Your low-fat life may be the problem,” she sang in an Irish lilt. “That’s old news. It’s sugar and carbohydrate that cause high cholesterol. You need the keto diet.”

Up until then, I had only heard of the Keto diet as a weight loss diet. I wasn’t even sure it was healthy. For those who don’t know, the Keto diet is high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carbohydrate. Yes, I said high fat! But it’s sugar-free and grain-free. Ouch.

You can google more about the details of the Keto diet – made famous by Atkins, sweeping the globe as the healthiest human diet, and the best lifestyle diet for weigh loss – but here’s what I have to say about it. Within 48-hours of trying the Keto diet, I felt my ankles shrink as my inflammation reduced, with two weeks my mid-life belly fat disappeared, within four months I had dropped twenty pounds and put on a ton of muscle, and two years later I have the blood of a thirty year old. That cardiologist still tests my fasting blood every 90-days.

I will never stop eating the Keto Diet. But lately, two years on later, I’m starting to miss desert. I am missing the odd waffle. I really would like a taste of sweet every now and again.

To the rescue, in steps my latest discovery, Nekstella, a SUGAR FREE version of that famous French chocolate hazelnut spread. I’m not joking. It’s sugar free and low carb. Look, I love this product so much — so do my kids! — that I am excited to tell you I am now a brand ambassador. I just love Nekstella!!! They also have low-carb pancake and waffle mixes so I have something starchy to spread my Nekstella on.

Nekstella lines up with everything I believe in. Our processed food industry is causing heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure largely because of all the added sugar. The low-carb, Keto Diet life should be everyone’s way of life. It’s certainly my diet for life. If you’d like to try it, CLICK HERE and use the key word: WENDY to get a discount at check out on your purchase.

Also, if you are a Keto Diet or low-carb foodie, I really love sharing low carb recipes, so please send them my way! – Dr. Wendy Walsh

Love Like a Super Attacher (Someone with a secure attachment style)

Black Couple SleepingDespite what romantic movies, TV shows, and books tell you, love isn’t something that simply happens. It is a work of art created by you. Really. Finding love is less about meeting the right person and more about acquiring the habits of what I call a super-attacher. People with good relationship skills and healthy attachment behavior, who believe they are lovable, are the ones suddenly finding love, as singles often perceive it.

So how can you begin to learn healthy attachment behaviors and find the relationship you want and deserve? It all starts with understanding what attachment style is and how it affects relationships.

Each of us comes into the world with a biological predisposition to attach to people in a certain way ? some babies require more closeness and care than others. During the crucial first year of life, when our brains triple in size, we start to form a hardwired blue print for love based on how our caregivers respond to our needs. Then, in our adult romantic life, we attempt to replicate that version of love, even if, believe it or not, it was filled with feelings of loss or pain. Trying to replicate that love is what causes millions of singles to seek out help from coupled up friends, speed dating events, dating advice articles, and reviews of dating sites from places like DatingAdvice.com. Once we find our preferred venue for replicating that love, attachment style is the invisible force that prompts us to swipe right on someone we like or say hello to a stranger we find attractive. Attachment style is also the invisible force that determines whether or not we get into roller-coaster relationships with extreme highs and lows or not.

At the top of the mating heap are super-attachers. These people have whats known as a secure attachment style. Secure people tend to have high self-esteem. They are comfortable sharing feelings with friends and lovers. When they are suffering, they seek out social support. They take responsibility for their actions and are known for having a lot of empathy. Best of all, they have trusting, lasting relationships.

If you dont exactly fit the profile of a super-attacher, there are three simple things you can do that should help transform your dating life:

  1. Give Care Without Having Strings Attached

Yes, be an authentic nice guy or nice gal, not one whose kindness comes from fear that someone will bolt or who uses a manipulative tactic to get someone to like them. Instead, be kind, expecting nothing in return except your own sense of high self-esteem. Enjoy the ego boost. Love just for the sake of loving and youll like yourself better.

  1. Receive Care Happily

The next time you are feeling under the weather or under a lot of stress, call in for backup. Reach out to friends and family members. I know this can be very hard for some people, but learning to have interdependent social support is great practice for one-on-one love. Let the people in your life know what you need and allow them to take care of you.

  1. Dont Take Anything Personally

If you often get emotionally hijacked by sudden feelings of abandonment or rejection, I have four words for you:?Its never about you.?There is always another side to every story, and trust me, people are more concerned with their own stuff than yours. So take a deep breath, and use every feeling of rejection as an opportunity to practice self-consoling. Remember, its never personal.

Learning to have healthy attachments is the key to having a long and happy relationship ? and life in general. Because when you love better, you live better. By the way, if you are curious about what kind of attachment style you have, you can?take the quiz here.

LISTEN TO THE DR. WENDY WALSH SHOW ON KFIAM 640 LOS ANGELES. Listen from anywhere on the iHeartRadio app or online at www.KFIAM640.com