Best of Our Blogs Articles

Best of Our Blogs: December 19, 2014

Friday, December 19th, 2014

When I was a kid, my mom regularly told me the story about the “boy who cried wolf.” It’s one of Aesop’s Fables whose moral lesson is to teach kids about the negative consequences of lying and exaggerating. “Do that too much and no one will believe you,” she said.

After awhile I began to internalize the lesson so that any time I felt anything, I kept quiet instead of expressing myself. The lesson made me completely confused. How was I to know whether my emotions were genuine or like my mom believed, an exaggeration purely to seek attention?

I wish I had these posts to read back then. It made me realize that any sense of disconnection I had with my feelings was the result of this early lesson. But it wasn’t about whether I was trying to get attention. It wasn’t about lying or bad behavior. The lesson taught me less about my own deficiencies and more about what was considered “correct” and “acceptable” behavior.

Maybe I exaggerated as a kid. But there is a reason why kids lie and exaggerate just like there is a reason why loved ones say they are in pain, depressed or seek your help. The solution isn’t always to ignore bad behavior, tell others to “get over it” and silence it with a fable. The key is to have the patience, understanding and curiosity to seek out why it existed in the first place.


Best of Our Blogs: December 16, 2014

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

‘Tis the season when my purpose and values slip through my fingers and fall into a blanket of people pleasing and unhealthy behaviors. December feels like a desperate chase to tie up loose ends to make up for the lack of connection during the rest of the year with the perfect gift or holiday party. It’s all too much. In response, we’re left with regret, sadness and an empty pint of Ben & Jerry’s. And then comes the new year.

January is all about torturing ourselves for our “bad” behavior. Diets. Books. Signing up for programs, seminars, classes, and gym memberships. That’s all great if it has a long-lasting impact on our happiness. But what often happens is we trigger a cycle of rebelling and resentment that brings us back to the same place come next year.

Instead of focusing on external events, dramas and situations, tune into what’s going on within. Unnecessary heartache, for example, could be stirred up because of miscommunication. Tuning into your feelings could help you lose weight and grow self-acceptance. Engaging in play could help reduce your stress, and participating in social media could be the thing that boosts your business.

Let’s not wait come January to start undertaking positive changes to bring us closer to the life we want. Let’s start now with these posts.

Best of Our Blogs: December 12, 2014

Friday, December 12th, 2014

In a culture that applauds fame and favors accomplishment and external success, it’s understandable that those that live quiet, humble lives might feel less than. A mom friend told me recently she stopped using Facebook because her life seemed dull in comparison to everyone else’s.

How many of us can relate? I can. It’s difficult not to succumb to the pressure of perfectionism and so we do too much. All the activities that should bring us joy during the holidays end up filling us up with resentment because we’re comparing ourselves to others. And when we feel our lives don’t measure up, instead of feeling grateful for our own contributions, our self-worth is shot.

But know this. Every thing you do, whether worthy of a tweet or Facebook post, is valuable. What matters is your intention. It doesn’t matter how many likes you get, the number on that scale or who you know. Sometimes the most honorable people are the ones that live ordinary lives.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, forgiveness, negative thoughts, or your relationships, know that your efforts are worthy of recognition, compassion and validation. Your desire to continue to get and be better is an amazing feat. Be proud of that accomplishment.

{Flickr photo by Princess Productions}

{Flickr photo by Princess Productions}

Best of Our Blogs: December 9, 2014

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Perhaps there is no other time than the holidays that exhibits such dichotomy in the way things should be and the way things really are. The season signals a shared ritual of giving and goodwill in its jovial music, decorations and opportunities to give back. Yet, it’s also the time of year that pushes us to finally see a therapist. What accounts for this gigantic division?

I’d say there are a lot of external situations that makes it understandable. But what’s going on outside isn’t to blame. I know a lot of people who don’t get swept up into the holiday chaos. The secret is in their awareness that stress is a choice.

As you’re shopping for the perfect present or struggling to get along with your in-laws, know you have a choice. How much of your self-esteem is wrapped up in what you’re doing? How much are guilt and resentment the result of you not putting yourself as a priority amidst the busy-ness of the season?

As you read our top posts this week, consider how much of your energy is being spent on things you truly want and need to do versus the shoulds that are making you miserable. You’ll discover that calming down your inner critic, being more positive, and self-compassionate are the true merry-making gifts of the season.

Heart Ornament

Best of Our Blogs: December 5, 2014

Friday, December 5th, 2014

The holidays offer us the greatest opportunity to either relish in goodness and hope or to deplete ourselves in envy and disappointment. The difference is our perception of what’s going in our lives. Do we indulge in the drama of a situation or do we settle our eyes on something brighter and better for our well-being?

It took many painful years of hitting my head against the wall and loved ones telling me to stop, before I got it. I voluntarily used up all my skills, energy and passion towards trying to change those who didn’t want to change. This year, I’m redirecting that energy in a workshop to teach those who actually want my help.

Similarly you may be grappling with your inner holiday demons. Maybe it’s all those difficult to resist temptations? Or instead of Christmas trees maybe the only green you’re seeing is the money you’ve spent or going to spend, or the envy you feel for those who seem to be fairing better than you.

The greatest gift you can give others, however, is giving to yourself. I’m not talking material things, though those can be rewarding at times. I’m talking about the gift of forgiveness, presence, self-compassion, self-growth and love.

This week, unwrap these gifts in our posts. If you just read them, it will spark a desire for change. If you begin to flirt with them, trying on a few changes here and there, by next year, who knows? You may become a happier, healthier, calmer, and more mindful version of you.

Presents by Cohdra

Best of Our Blogs: December 2, 2014

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”
~Ram Dass

Can you believe it’s already December? With just a month left in 2014, I bet you’re feeling pretty pressured and stressed right now. Yet, there is a way to transform this emotionally laden and financially distressing time into another opportunity for self-growth.

Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert spoke at Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend Tour describing relatives who push your buttons as “the greatest spiritual teachers of your life.” She says stressful family gatherings can be “a teachable moment,” if you take the time to ask yourself the following questions: “What am I being asked to learn here? Patience? Dignity? Boundaries? Generosity? Compassion?” 

If you’re juggling the perfect present with perfect presence this holiday, try searching for the lesson in the chaos. My husband and I have a secret tactic for dealing with insensitive relatives-we use the otherwise hurtful experience as a laughing moment or a reminder not to take life so seriously. You could similarly search for meaning behind your uncle’s criticisms, your mother’s lack of compassion or your own bah humbug mood. It may just be an opportunity to practice more self-compassion, patience or forgiveness this season.

Need more reason to rejoice despite difficulty? This week you’ll derive hope from studies that show a positive side of depression as well as get information on things you can do to soothe an anxious child, and learn how to flex your self-discipline muscle.

While none of us would voluntarily sign up for hardship, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just like the holidays, the storm will not only pass, but may leave behind an unexpected rainbow.

Dog Holidays

Best of Our Blogs: November 28, 2014

Friday, November 28th, 2014

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learns this knows what it means to live.” - Albert Schweitzer

As I’m writing this, it’s Thanksgiving. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to baste the turkey or prepare the house for a large party. We’re visiting others who are taking care of that this year.

I’m grateful for more than that, however.

I’m not just grateful for the obvious things-the fact that I have a roof over my head, family nearby, a full belly and a career that I love.

I’m grateful for everything.

I’m appreciative of the uncertainty in the future and the challenges of my past because they are responsible for the depth, character and humility of my present.

In fact, there is a long list of people, events and things that never make it to the gratitude list. For Thanksgiving, I’m saluting them. I’m grateful for…

1. Illness because it’s given me an increased awareness and compassion for others.

2. Loss for what it’s taught me about the things that truly matter in my life.

3. Conflict for helping me to understand myself and others.

You can add to your own list with the topics from this week’s posts. It’s all the things you might not have considered when pondering what you have to be grateful for, but are equally worthy of your attention and appreciation. Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

fall maple

Best of Our Blogs: November 25, 2014

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

In a few days, it will be Thanksgiving here in the US. The irony is that while many of us are gearing up for this day of gratitude, we’re probably not feeling it. Prepping turkeys, and getting ready for Black Friday and the litany of holidays that come with forced family gatherings often equates to more moments of grumbling and thanklessness than anything else. But if you’re bemoaning your current situation and are on the verge of giving into unhealthy habits to feed your hurt, vulnerable and exhausted self, stop.

Fuel yourself with this instead.

I attended Oprah’s The Life You Want weekend in San Jose recently. During the show, she said, “The single best way to change your vibration (e.g. sadness, anger or fear) is by being grateful.”

Being forced to feel grateful when you’re suffering loss or enduring severe illness may not be the right thing for you. It might make you angry. It might make you feel misunderstood or unheard. But if you can shift your attention from the drama in your life to what really matters-your breath, the roof over your head, the people you truly want to spend time with-you might experience a subtle, but life changing shift.

This week take a pause between basting that turkey to learn how to become emotionally strong, identify narcissism, and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. And then scroll down to watch a video on how simply telling someone how grateful you are for them (or just watch others doing so) can completely overturn your mood and ultimately your life.


Best of Our Blogs: November 21, 2014

Friday, November 21st, 2014

How to Get Through a Difficult Situation

When you’re fumbling your way through a challenging experience, there are multiple roads you can take. Some courses are hazardous and dangerous. Others will bring you toward a greater sense of meaning and healing. Therapy, meditation, and medication for example could be part of the latter. Connection is another important route that can lift you from a feeling of isolation and being misunderstood to reminding you that you’re not alone.

Finding your tribe, whether it be a group of supportive friends, or a support group (online ones like these and alternative ones) can be the difference between sinking and soaring.

While sometimes the best thing we can do to remedy a situation is to spend time alone, other times we need the shoulder of a caring person to help us cope. If you’re grieving over a loss, need help with helping your child, or searching for advice on relationships or cultivating more meaning in your life, these top posts will help you get started. For an added bonus, use them to start a conversation with loved ones to foster more connection in your own life.


{Photo from here.}

Best of Our Blogs: November 18, 2014

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

As colder, wetter — and for many, snowier — weather falls upon us, it’s tempting to snuggle up inside with a good book and maybe even some hot chocolate (yes, already!).

Well, we definitely don’t discourage reading here at Psych Central! Consider adding these five top posts to your list this week.

Red Leaf Rain

Best of Our Blogs: November 14, 2014

Friday, November 14th, 2014

As the seasons change and the holidays approach, some spotlights are shone on certain mental health factors. We might feel more stressed (and this isn’t isolated to adults!) or dealing with mental illness might become more of a challenge.

Our bloggers tackle those topics and more in today’s Best of Our Blogs.

Red Leaf Tree

Best of Our Blogs: November 11, 2014

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Today’s Best of Our Blogs is all about me you!

Over the past few days, our bloggers have been hard at it explaining how to spiritually nourish yourself, what not to do when dealing with heartbreak, and even when and why to be stubborn.

Do you know why you should dedicate time to spiritual growth? How being stubborn can actually help you love yourself more? What about your emotional intelligence — where do you stand on that scale?


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