The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™
Fight when you can
Take flight when you must
Flow like a dream
In the Phoenix we
Table of Contents
Training Kit; R&R CD & Safe Stress E-Book; AOL Chat
Shrink Rap: A Stress Guide for Overachievers
Heads Up: Anger E-Book, Mid-Columbia, WA & MD Cold Fusion User Group
Readers: Coffee Clashes & Who's in Charge?
Main Essay: Disarming a Critical Aggressor: Part I
Best wishes and good adventures for the New Year!
1. Training/Marketing Kit:
Want to strengthen your ability to lead or market a stress workshop or any kind
of speaking/training program? Consider the Stress Doc Training/Marketing Kit,
which includes both "how to" manual, 20-minute highlights video, and articles,
as well as the opportunity for phone coaching. For more info:
Training/Marketing Kit http://stressdoc.com/kitbook.htm
2. "R & R" (Rap & Relaxation) CD:
(a) Relaxation-Visualization CD (10-minutes); with three Shrink Raps™ and two of
the Stress Doc's classic articles: "The Four Stags of Burnout" and "The Stress
Doc's 'Top Ten' Stress Tips." (Total time: 55-minutes.)
3. Stress Doc Books:
a) E-BOOK: Hot off the Adobe File; Ready for Download
Practicing Safe Stress: Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout &
Depression, 2004, Doc Enterprises
The Stress Doc's Store Front
Practice Safe Stress tackles the "Toxic-Traumatic Trio" - stress, burnout, and
depression. Learn practical and playful, inspiring and insightful strategies
for transforming these toxins into life-affirming energy, creative focus, and
goal-achievement. The book is alive with imaginative language and memorable
"how to" ideas for:
§ Understanding the "Four Stages of Burnout," the "Erosive Spiral"
§ Rebuilding your fire and developing "Natural SPEED"
§ Achieving liberation through "Emancipation Procrastination"
§ Becoming an "organizational psychohumorist" ™
There are satirical essays on "lean-and-MEAN" managers and on mismanaged
downsizings. Learn to "laugh in the face of layoffs" and ponder the possibility
of "Van Gogh, Prozac, and Creativity." The Stress Doc also shares his his own
trials, errors, and triumphs in battling the "Toxic Trio."
Safe Stress provides many discrete "Top Ten" lists and "strategic tips" essays
useful as educational/informational handouts. To quote the Internet
Newsroom: Your Guide to the World of Electronic Factgathering: "The most
outstanding feature…is his 'psychohumor' essays. Always witty,
thought-provoking, and helpful." With this easy-to-follow, fast-paced, and fun
health and wellness guide, you'll return often to Practice Safe Stress.
b) Hard Copy Book -- Truly on the Cutting Edge
From Stress Brakes and Shrink Rap to Safe Stress and Cool Moon Cats:
The Wit and Wisdom of the Stress Doc, Stress Doc Enterprises, 1995
A 90 page compilation of my former syndicated radio essays, pioneering songs in
the field of psychologically humorous rap music -- "Shrink Rap" Productions
- a creative visualization poem and other humorous lyrics/poems. "Stress
Brake" radio essays are short (300 words), fast-paced and witty, covering
such topics as stress, burnout, anger and conflict resolution, time management,
creativity, men's and women's issues, romantic relationships, codependency, etc.
(They make excellent fillers for newsletters.)
Price: $20 (which covers priority postage and handling)
To purchase books and/or tape, make check payable to: Mark Gorkin
Send check to:
Stress Doc Enterprises
1616 18th Street, NW #312
Questions? Call 202-232-8662
4. Chat Group:
Stop by my AOL/Digital City Shrink Rap (TM) and Group Chat
DC Debate Tuesdays, 9:30-11pm EST DC Support Chat (Alas, only for AOL
Well, if imitation is a high form of flattery, then my ego definitely feels
stroked. My good friend Chere Eastern, founder of Career Coaches Intl., took
basic concepts and structure from one of my past articles on HR Stress Survival
and generated a terrific article on stress in the law field. Chere coaches and
puts on seminars for various legal professionals. And her article has relevance
beyond the courtroom or legal boardroom.
Career Coaches International Newsletter
A STRESS GUIDE FOR OVERACHIEVERS
I don't know anyone in the legal field who considers themselves an
underachiever. Your employer may have a different perspective of you, but
frankly, just surviving in this highly intelligent, crisis managed, fast-paced,
exceedingly demanding, ever-changing arena can result in a predictable result:
Mark Groin, a Washington, DC therapist, speaker and trainer is AOL's "The Stress
Doc" and a good friend. Many the nights I've called him to validate my career
passions -- my emotions psyched up, attention focused and enthusiasm fired up
only to have him remind me to pace myself and to practice "Safe Stress."
"Harness a lightning-paced business environment," he says. Dang, and just when I
thought those cold sweats at night were pre-menopausal not suppressed anxiety.
This Mess Called Stress....
In today's unstable and constantly changing, merging and purging world of "do
more with less" work environment, legal professionals bridge the gap between
attorneys, clients and supervisors. In fact, it's at the intersection of
challenge and performance pressure that you can find yourself confronted with
lack of sufficient control to deal with high pitched and fast paced demands.
According to Gorkin, there are a number of job-related stressors:
1. Availability and accountability: Attorneys generally believe that all
legal professionals should be at their beck and call. If you totally buy into
the rescuer role, taking every problem home at night -- beware: burnout is less
a sign of failure and more that you gave yourself away.
2. Objectivity: The legal professional must also be an objective and
concerned advocate for the attorney, client and various law firm departments and
vendors they must bring together. Non-attorneys must be a robust problem-solving
force in the organization or otherwise flounder about.
3. Multiple Roles: It's not surprising that the non-attorney often plays
many roles from mini-associate, trainer, conduit, grunt, peacemaker, authority
figure, organizer and concerned advocate. And, if that's not enough, you must be
the back up when there are breakdowns or problems with a) cases or matters b)
witnesses c) filings d) communications e) critical deadlines f) assignments and
4. Crisis Management: A potential danger is the belief that you are the
center of the law firm solar system. All organizational matters of the case or
matter depends on your energy source. When certain crises are outside your
sphere of productive "hands on" influence and resist the "solo savior syndrome"
5. Constantly changing technology: Like the rest of the corporate world, you
keep up with new software and data processing systems. New software to ease the
pain of litigation, case management and deadlines appears almost weekly. Getting
up and running technologically takes longer than anticipated. Glitch happens!
Consider these questions to assess your "stressability": 1) Are you heroically
still trying to be all things to all people? 2) Are you servicing a greater
number of assignments than ever before? 3) Is there more pressure now than ever
before to hit a minimum billable requirement? 4) Are you a slave to deadlines or
frustrated from an apparent lack of time? 5) Do you accept too many
responsibilities? 6) Are you scheduling more than you can do realistically? 7)
Are you reluctant to admit you need or ask for help? 8) Are you afraid to take a
vacation? 9) Are you afraid to make a mistake? 10) Are you cynical, callous,
feel helpless or in constant crisis? If you answered "yes" to any of these,
beware! Stress can lead to burnout, unhealthy boundaries or ill-health. This
downward spiral can lead to feelings of being trapped or feeling paralyzed.
Remember: Hitting bottom means there's no more downward spiral.
Here are five survival strategies I have put together based on Gorkin's
1) Balance interdependence and autonomy: Strive to project an image of
operational objectivity and team player while performing highly sophisticated
assignments. At the same time, develop a capacity for "detached involvement,"
that is, being sensitive to legal issues and concerns while resisting the
rescuer role. If you're always taking work home literally or emotionally, your
personal boundaries are starting to erode.
2) Reach out to specialists and consultants: Whether you take things too
personally, feel overwhelmed or are working incredible overtime, don't be that
lone Rambo or Rambette. Reach out for expert support, particularly if you are
working with the Green-eyed Monster in the corner office. Collaborate with an
Employee Assistance Program counselor; go to your HR department or a supervisor
with the power to help you. For widespread department tension, consider using a
corporate change/critical intervention consultant.
3) Balance assignments and human relating: Beware the solitary document
reviewer, sequestered in your cubicle! Don't lose the human touch. Periodically,
walk around the firm. Swap stories with folks at lunch or breaks. Rotate
different hats. The Stress Doc advocates "fireproofing your life with variety!"
4) Encourage independence by setting boundaries: Here are three
boundary-setting strategies that enable you to successfully juggle various roles
and responsibilities: a) Delegation: Delegate when it is appropriate. This
critical stress management tool gives others a chance to demonstrate their
skills and expertise while you monitor their performance. b) Education: Help
others not to be so dependent upon your indispensable knowledge. Train others on
assignment-related procedures and move yourself up that invisible career ladder.
c) Separation: Balance accessibility and boundaries with "closed door" time.
Master the stress management mantra: "Give of yourself and give to yourself!"
5) Maximize team meetings: Productive team meetings are essential for
sharing an emotionally demanding workload. Meetings need to be more than time
and task driven. Build in a fifteen- minute "wavelength" segment for group
brainstorming and venting around emotionally tough issues dealing with
deadlines, strategy, turf battles with other departments, cultural diversity
tensions, etc. Don't use this as a gripe session; use it as a vehicle for new
ideas and get valuable input from other team members.
In these tough corporate times, being a survivor is not enough. You can get
mighty old in quite a hurry if you're giving to your law firm and not to
yourself. In that stressed-out mode, you may find those Botox commercials
awfully appealing. Remember, we're not human doings, rather, we are human beings
-- the secret to a less stressful and more fun filled life!
1) New Stress Doc E-Book on "Transforming Anger" Poised for Publication
The Four Faces of Anger: Model and Method
Transforming Anger, Rage & Conflict
Into Inspiring Attitude & Behavior
Table of Contents
I. Anger: Theoretical Overview and Technical Application
1) The Four Faces of Anger: A Model for Transformation [P. 1]
· conceptual foundation for debunking one-sided nature of anger and for
transforming rage and hostility; glean the "Four Angry "I"s"
2) The "Volatile-Victim" Employee and the Belligerent-Impaired Manager [P. 9]
How to Transform Rage Into an Assertive Plan
· case vignette illustrates "Four Faces" model as a diagnostic and intervention
too; an employee confronts his past and overcomes present rage
3) The Transformational Potential of Rage [P. 16]
· positives of rage: gets attention, crisis signal and potential for creative
4) Seven Styles of Self-Defeating Anger [P. 18]
· illustrations of dysfunctional anger to destructive expression that hit close
5) A Profile of the Violence-Prone Personality [P. 22]
· key characteristics include power and control and rigid righteousness
6) Alarming "You"s and Disarming "I"s: Part I [P. 29]
Power Struggles vs. Powerful Strategies
. assertive "I" messages vs. blaming "You"s along with role-play and other
7) Transforming Aggression Into Higher Power "I"s [P. 32]
An IDEAL Method of Engagement
· higher power assistance and IDEAL method helps the Doc turn around a
8) Disarming a Critical Aggressor [P. 37]
Awareness, Assertion and Affirmation Techniques and Strategies
· a harshly critical role-play exercise illuminates defensive reaction vs.
9) Quiet Flows the Courage [P. 51]
· an example of standing up to hostile authority: killing them softly
10) Embracing Criticism: Quick Tips [P. 52]
· from consequences of being thin-skinned to handling destructive, vague and
11) Listening, Learning and Leading [P. 53]
Technical Skill and Motivational Art
· four keys of active listening and foundational concepts for relation-based
12) Defining Conflict and the "Murray Story" [P. 56]
· a classic ego-power struggle involving boss-employee, generation gap and hard
13) Communication Strategies at the Communal Battlefront [P. 58]
Surviving Laundry Wars
· defusing an aggressor before the spin cycle gets out of control
14) Creative Couple/Family Counseling [P. 61]
Discovering the Paradoxical Pass in the Impasse
· paradoxical and playful strategies help motivate a "special ed" kid while
rebuilding a father-son and husband-wife bond
15) Disarming Aggression and Organizational Power Struggles [P. 64]
From the Heart of Team Focus to the Art of "Tongue Foo-ey"
· from verbal martial arts to diplomatic aggression with a "Nursus
II. Disarming Aggression Vignettes
1) Challenging Aggression [P. 68]
· dealing with know-it-alls through quotes and comebacks
2) Gaining Control [P. 69]
· creatively and outrageously disarming a tantrum throwing three-year-old
3) Guilt Buster [P. 70]
· don't bust a gut; use the mother of all busters
4) Disarming Humor [P. 71]
The Fallacy of Sincerity
· saving face and getting the narcissist to laugh at himself
5) Bridge the Divide, Laugh and Conquer [P. 72]
· taking your antagonist's best shot and overcoming diversity barriers
6) Playfully Disarming a Provocative Exchange [P. 73]
The Art of "Tongue-Foo-ey"
· don't go postal; playfully bite the hand that feeds you
7) Finding the Pass in the Impasse [P. 73]
· when being on the hot seat has your brain cookin'
8) Disrupting Escalating Group Tension When Consensus Is Critical [P. 74]
· an embattled jury and a hair-raising trial with the Stress Doc
9) Defusing Tension in a Wartime Environment [P. 76]
· out of the box absurdity rescues folks from in-house wartime stress
10) The Mastery of Jealousy: Old Rabbi Tale [P. 77]
· creative use of paradox helps a "problem child" feel special
11) Birds of a Feather: Old Rabbi Tale [P. 78]
· holiday costuming leads to courage with peers and healthier mother-son
III. Anger Q & As
1) Challenging Rudeness with Tactful Assertiveness [P. 79]
· assertive questioning to awaken a rude individual
2) Managing the Quietly Surly and Passive-Aggressive Employee [P. 80]
· five strategies: from peer confrontation to critical intervention
3) Understanding and Dealing with a Control Freak" Boss/Owner in [P. 84]
Times of Rapid Change
· identifies challenges for small business owners and tips for not freaking out
when an employee
4) Fortifying a Wounded SELF with Hostile Relatives [P. 90]
· confronting Sensitivity, Envy, Loyalty and Fairness (SELF)
5) Grieving the Historic Loss of Nurturing and the Impending Death [P. 95]
of a Cold, Hurtful Mother
· strategic grief tips, including acceptance of anger and of mother's weaknesses
IV. It's a Rap!
1) The Self-Righteous Rap 
2) The Song of Safe Stress 
If you'd like a copy, just send me an email.
2) Voice of the Mid-Columbia: The cities of Kennewick, Pasco and
Richland, Washington; holiday stress interview
3) Maryland Cold Fusion User Group; will be doing Speaker Coaching
in Jan with the monthly meeting presenters
Subj: Coffee Clashes (or Not So Heavenly Coffee)
A husband and wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each
morning. The wife said, "You should do it, because you get up first, and then we
don't have to wait as long to get our coffee."
The husband said, "You are in charge of the cooking around here and you should
do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee."
Wife replies, "No you should do it, and besides it is in the Bible that the man
should do the coffee."
Husband replies, "I can't believe that, show me."
So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and shows him at the top
of several pages, that it indeed says .... "HEBREWS"
Subj: Who's in Charge?
"I should be in charge," said the blood, "because I circulate oxygen all over,
so without me you'd all waste away."
"I should be in charge," said the stomach, "because I process food and give all
of you energy."
"I should be in charge," said the legs, "because I carry the body wherever it
needs to go."
"I should be in charge," said the eyes, "because I allow the body to see where
"I should be in charge," said the rectum, "because I'm responsible for waste
All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him, so in a huff,
he shut down tight.
Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the stomach was bloated,
the legs got wobbly, the eyes got watery, and the blood was toxic.
They all decided that the rectum should be the boss.
The Moral of the story?
The asshole is usually in charge.
Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, an international/Celebrity Cruise
Lines speaker, training consultant, psychotherapist, syndicated writer, and
upcoming author of Practice Safe Stress: Healing and Laughing in the Face of
Stress, Burnout & Depression. Mark, recently interviewed by BBC Radio, has
a multi-award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" --
www.stressdoc.com -- cited as workplace resource in a National Public Radio
feature. As AOL's "Online Psychohumorist," ™ Mark runs his weekly Shrink Rap
and Group Chat. Email for his monthly newsletter recently showcased on List-a-Day.com.For
more info on the Doc's "Practice Safe Stress" programs, email email@example.com
or call 202-232-8662.
(c) Mark Gorkin 2004
Shrink Rap Productions