Aging

The Luggage Set

I needed luggage. Specifically, I needed matching luggage. At 53, I’d never owned a complete set of coordinated baggage. I figured it was time.

I was at the local thrift store one day, and I saw a beautiful, brand new, four-piece luggage set. The color of the suitcases was black and beige; I would later learn that the pattern was called “English Garden.” The manufacturer was American Tourister. “You can’t go wrong with that,” I thought. And to top it off, it was priced to sell -- $100.00 for the whole set.

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Friends

Love Thy Boundaries

“Love thy Neighbor; yet don’t pull down your hedge.” -- Benjamin Franklin
Boundaries. You know you’re supposed to have them. Maybe your boundaries are abstract, and you just go with the flow. Maybe you think it’s only people who are “too nice” or forgiving that have their boundaries violated. But at some point everyone has their physical, emotional, and spiritual limits pressed.

Perhaps a friend going through a breakup leaned on you too much to meet their emotional needs. Maybe someone violated your spatial boundaries by standing too close or being touchy-feely. At some point, you’ve probably accommodated people who have fundamentally different core values at the expense of your own emotional well-being.
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Anxiety and Panic

Three Tips to Muscle Through Social Anxiety

Something strange happens when I have to talk to a new person or someone I don’t feel comfortable with. My heart rate increases, my hands shake a little and I can feel a tightening in my chest.

It happens to everyone to some extent when they socialize, especially in instances where you're taking a risk (, asking for a raise, asking someone for a date). But for me the anxiety happens every time, from...
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Brain and Behavior

The Long and the Short of It: Answering Questions in a Complex World

Last week, I was driving home from work at a local university, where I teach freshman writing. As usual, I was listening to NPR. A story came on about how Alaska Airlines had struck a deal to buy Virgin America. I wasn’t really paying attention to the details until someone asked the reporter a question about the takeover. The reporter said “The short answer is -- ” and then proceeded to answer the question.

At that phrase, my ears perked up. “What a wonderful way to frame information!” I thought. Life is complicated. There are short answers, and there are long answers. It struck me as very smart to begin explanations by saying either “the short answer is” or “the long answer is.”

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Brain and Behavior

19 Ways You are Emotionally Abusing Yourself

He is a multimillionaire client of mine. Handsome. Accomplished. Respected. Gentle. Reflective. Kind.

And I was examining every angle of why he was allowing a clearly destructive woman (borderline personality disorder) out of his life. He agreed over and over again that she was bad for him, that she felt no remorse, that suddenly abandoning partners was her longtime modus operandi, and yet, he couldn’t let go.

With enough digging, a story emerged.

“I was small as a kid. I was the last guy picked for all the teams. I guess I’m afraid nobody will pick me again if I can’t get her back.”
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General

Reconnecting to Yourself Every Day

We can get disconnected from ourselves regularly. Even on a daily basis. This can happen because we’re fully focused on checking off tasks from our to-do lists. Or because we’re fully focused on taking care of everyone else.

It can happen because we’re stuck in our heads -- “leaning too far into the future or obsessing about things that didn't go well for us in the past,” said Kelly Rose, LMFT, a psychotherapist who helps people reconnect to their authentic selves in Wayzata, Minn. Because when we’re disconnected from the present moment, we’re really disconnected from ourselves, she said.

Rose shared this quote from Eckhart Tolle: “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now."

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General

10 Lessons Failure Teaches

No one likes to fail. In fact, most people would do almost anything to avoid failure. They consider the lengths they have to resort to a fair price to pay -- just so they don’t have to go through the experience of failing. But they’re missing something incredibly valuable: They’re losing out on the lessons failure teaches.

You don’t always have to be right.
It may come as a bit of a shock to realize that you don’t always have to be right. In fact, if you think you always have to be right, you’re likely going to experience more than a few disappointments. The beauty of having failed is that it takes away some of the pressure of having to be right. You can forgive yourself for the failure and move on.

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General

How to Listen to Your Emotions

Listening to our emotions is vital. Emotions “seek to serve and empower us to explore the world safely and make meaning of our experience in it,” said Deb Hannaford, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Pasadena and Monrovia, Calif. Emotions are valuable sources of information. “[T]hey give us direction and help us know what we need.”

But many of us aren’t very familiar with listening to our emotions. Maybe we weren’t taught to process our emotions as kids. Maybe instead we avoid or dismiss our emotions. Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves that our emotions are inconvenient or useless at best and wrong at worst.

So how do we explore our emotions and know what they’re trying to tell us?
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Family

5 Ways to Accept Gratitude Fully

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." -- Chesterton
In a recent post John Amodeo, , wrote about the “5 Ways that Being Appreciated Nourishes Us” … “if we can only let it in fully.”

Sometimes we are trapped in our own head-space, and we just can’t let appreciation in. We’re too busy thinking about our next big project, paying the bills, remembering to call...
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Addiction

Treating Trichotillomania

As a hair stylist with over 15 years of experience, I recently had the opportunity to work with a client who suffered from trichotillomania. Also called "hair pulling disorder," trichotillomania is characterized by an obsessive pulling of one's own hair, leading to hair loss and baldness. It's often chronic, difficult to treat, and can lead to high stress and social impairment for the sufferer. The following is an account of our work with this client using my skills as a master stylist.

Our client had gone through years of hiding her pull spots and had become masterful at finding different up-styles to camouflage her problem areas. The idea was to add hair extensions, as the client and her behavioral therapist believed it would help her to stop her compulsive pulling.
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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: April 16, 2016


Good morning (or afternoon, evening, or night?) lovely readers!

If you checked in with me last week, you know I was dreading a weekend of snow; well, Mother Nature smiled on my little neck of the woods and gave us a few inches only on Sunday.

All in all, not a raw deal.

Anyway, I'm probably working this weekend (boo!), but I have some great tips, resources, and other updates from the mental health community to share with you first. Read on to get the latest on tips for anger management, find out which of your seemingly harmless common daily habits could actually hurt your health, why sarcasm could be good for creative thinking, and more!

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General

Differentiating the Pursuit of Excellence from Perfectionism

We want to excel in our lives -- striving for excellence in all that we do. But can we differentiate our noble pursuit of excellence from a dysfunctional desire to be perfect?

A job well done can be enormously fulfilling. It can be meaningful and pleasurable to complete a home project, excel at work, or know that we’re a person who is punctual and conscientious.

But when does our striving for excellence degenerate into the life-draining burden of perfectionism?

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