Furthermore, because group-centered leadership fosters active participation on the part of group members, interaction among members increases, thus making it likely that they will learn how they affect others and how they function as members of a democratic group. We shall again draw upon some of the statements obtained through interviews with the members of the group studied by the writer (70). There were 49 statements which fell into the following categories: I am or have been too autocratic, desirous of power, task-oriented, impatient, insensitive to feelings of others, demanding, not permissive enough. While dopamine brings feelings of pleasure and provides a happiness boost, serotonin is more of a mood stabilizer, contributing to feelings of contentment, happiness, and well-being, and inhibiting the compelling motivation of dopamine. Most people realize that substances can trigger this pleasure pathway but are less aware that behaviors can as well. Consider shopping. The notion of retail therapy is not just a cliche. When you're thinking about buying a treat for yourself--expecting a reward, essentially--dopamine surges. Actually buying something results in an even harder dopamine kick. In one insightful study, neuroscientists scanned people's brains as they contemplated buying items. The researchers noted extra activity in the nucleus accumbens, described as the pleasure center of the brain. When the research participants were told how much the items cost, there was more activity in the part of their prefrontal cortex responsible for executive functioning and decision-making, as well as the insula, which processes pain. Those with the most active insulas were most likely to decide not to buy the product, which points to the fact that sometimes the joy of holding on to your hard-earned cash beats the thrill of getting new stuff. The Payoff: Smoother handling of the competing demands in your life The only thing in my life that's balanced is the amount of time I spend worrying about my work or my kids and the amount of time I spend worrying that I forgot to worry about something. The greatest source of stress for me is when I have to choose between the work I need to get done and spending time with my wife and kids. It invariably leads to frustration, which, ironically, I vent as anger at the kids. My goal is to have good-quality time with them, so I end up really beating myself up over ruining that. I have no life.

Honestly, I feel like all I do is work. I'm in a really competitive industry, and I need to put in this kind of effort to get ahead, but sometimes I look around at my friends who have husbands and families and wonder when I'll find the time to get around to that. If any of these hit home for you, you're in good company. Our studies show that work/life imbalance is, by far, the environmental element that causes the most amount of distress for the greatest number of people. I am or have been too dependent on what others think, too cautious, needing too much support and approval, afraid to disagree, too laissez-faire. I am more aware of amount and intensity of own feelings and their cause and effect; I am or have been a dodger of responsibility in a group, withdrawn, an isolate; I am or have been putting up a false front to others, behaving in terms of false standards; I know things about myself that I didn't know before; Here we see individuals obtaining new or reinforced understandings of themselves as members, as potential group leaders, or simply as persons. Instead of rigidly defending their existing self-structure, as people do in most group situations, these members seem to be actively reorganizing their self-structure. Internalization of the Functions of the Group-Centered Leader In the previous discussion of the varoius dimensions of group-centered leadership it was suggested repeatedly that some of the distinctive functions that are brought to the group by the group-centered leader are gradually taken over by the members of the group. Group members become more warm and empathic in their relations with each other; The take-home message is that you are biologically wired to pursue pleasure--this gets stimulated through substances and behaviors--but you also have biological wiring to keep pleasure in check so it doesn't turn into pain. How well these pathways support healthy functioning differs for each of us. For some people, for example, shopping's immediate gratification always seems to outweigh the consideration of suffering (by overspending, say). Others allow their budgets to keep them in check. That's not unlike substance use. Some people may feel driven to drink away their problems, even as they know they'll pay a price the next morning.

For others, knowing they need to be on for work in a few hours supports them in calling it a night. Why are some people more vulnerable to problematic behavior? Recall our discussion of the high allostatic load imposed by stressful lives. One hallmark of bearing a high allostatic load is weak functioning of the prefrontal cortex. Almost two-thirds of our database report that balancing the competing demands of their work and personal lives causes them significant stress. The tension of striking a satisfying balance between work and life can get very emotional: we feel frustrated when we can't do what we want or need, angry when someone takes up our time with tasks we don't want to do, and guilty when we're taking time away from where we think we should be. We understand. Even more, we know why this happens . The Crux of the Conflict When we ask people to identify the source of their work/life conflicts, inevitably they will point to their enormous workload weighed against the demands of family and the yearning for personal time. Both of these things, of course, require our time and attention--unfortunately, often at the same time. The pull between work and personal life brings up big emotions: big anxiety, big frustration, big guilt, big shame. Big emotions, as you know, signal that iceberg beliefs are on the loose. Icebergs represent our deepest beliefs and reflect our fundamental values, so it makes sense that they would show up around our home life and livelihood. In short, the members of a group whose leadership has been essentially group-centered seem to become more and more like the group-centered leader in their attitudes and behavior toward others. If further research substantiates this clinical observation, we can point to this as probably the most significant contribution of the group-centered leader to the group. It is significant because of its implications for improving human relations, for reducing misunderstandings between individuals by facilitating communication between them. If it is true that group-centered leadership releases tendencies to relate with others on a more accepting and understanding basis, might it not be a hopeful beginning in effecting more cooperative behavior between individuals, more effective decision-making in groups, more respect for the worth of every member of the group, more willingness to listen to other points of view? Could it mean that group-centered leadership would reduce misunderstandings and hostility between labor and management as they work together on joint committees, reduce intolerance among members of a high school class, alleviate jealousies and petty conflicts between members of a college faculty or between employees in an office -- perhaps even promote shared understandings between representatives of unfriendly nations? There is some research evidence for these changes in the attitudes and behavior of group members toward each other as they operate in the group.

Sheerer's study strongly suggests that there is increased acceptance of others by clients during client-centered therapy. She sees the implication of her finding as follows: If we apply this to some of the problems of social psychology, it might mean that increased acceptance of minority groups, foreigners, and the like, could best be achieved by some type of group therapy which would tend to alter the individual's acceptance of and respect for himself. One of the delegates to the Conference of Christians and Jews felt himself become more understanding and accepting of others as a result of his experience. Another is decreased secretion of dopamine and serotonin. For those reasons, a person with a high allostatic load just isn't so good at bringing their rational mind online to help regulate emotions, making them vulnerable to anything that increases dopamine and serotonin levels, such as substance use or other reward-based coping behaviors like gambling, shopping, or compulsive internet use. YOUR COPING STRATEGIES Whether you're struggling in your romantic life or falling behind at work, healthy coping skills can be essential to getting through tough times. We all have go-to coping strategies, not all of which serve us well. What's yours? Do you click too many items into your online shopping cart? Work overtime, to avoid creating a life outside of work? Consume a nightly bottle of wine to settle down? Do you dissociate from reality so that it can't get to you? When it comes to work/life balance, many of us develop icebergs that lead us to expect more of ourselves than we can reasonably accomplish. Some beliefs, such as I must excel at everything I do, drive us to be perfect (an impossible target) and to be all things to all people (another impossible target, unless you have magical powers to clone yourself at will). Others are just plain outdated or inaccurate, like Only weak people take time off. When two or more of our icebergs clash with each other, the stress sparks start flying. Imagine if you had an iceberg belief that A good mother is always there for her kids, along with I must appear professional at work at all times. Now imagine you have a big meeting scheduled at work and your kid wakes up with a fever of 102.

Can you envision the explosion of snow and ice as these two icebergs crash into each other? If you're someone who has similar icebergs to these, you don't have to work too hard to envision it because you've experienced the frustration, anxiety, and stress firsthand. The Gender Gap We've seen a preponderance of literature and debate in recent years about the issues women face with work/life balance. He writes afterwards: Whenever I revealed my faith to a person, I had the feeling that I was no longer to be judged as a person, a human being, but as a Jew. This week has been for me something unique. I have been able to say to myself that I am here among people who not only understand, but want to understand. And the corollary of this has been that I have sought to understand them. As a human being both of these directions of understanding are important -- equally important. The findings of Gorlow (71),37 provide the most clear-cut evidence of the increase in acceptance of group members toward each other. During the later stages of group therapy the group members actually became therapists for each other. Changes in the Group Functioning The outcomes of group-centered leadership may be examined from the frame of reference of changes in the group functioning. Or maybe you have an unrelenting drive for everything to be perfect? Perhaps you're prone to blaming others when things go wrong, which allows for distraction from the pain of what's really going on? Or prone to blaming yourself and feeling worthless? Some people cope in more socially acceptable ways. Yet even if they sound less problematic--there's obviously a huge difference between heroin addiction and perfectionism--these behaviors stop us from living with a deeper sense of presence and love. If a habit is hurting you, change helps, regardless of the degree of the problem.