Habits

Are You Clutter-Blind? Or Do You Know Someone Who Is?

One thing that continues to surprise me about the nature of good habits and happiness is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should.

In the context of life of a happy life, something like a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box seems trivial -- and it is trivial -- and yet I find that I get a disproportionate charge of energy and good cheer from clearing clutter. An orderly environment makes me feel more in control of my life, and if this is an illusion, it’s a helpful illusion.
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Depression

5 Ways to Grow Together When Depression Enters a Relationship


No one teaches us how to navigate a relationship when mental illness enters the equation.

I recently read a Washington Post article by a woman whose relationship was torn apart while she and her partner tried to deal with his depression.

My personal take is that the author simply wasn't equipped to deal with a partner coping with depression. Most of us aren’t.

Last year when I plunged into a depressive episode, my partner was at a loss. He had never dealt with this and wanted so badly to help, but had no idea what to do.
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Aging

All the Single Ladies — What’s Going On?

“So what’s the secret for getting a good marriage? asked my friend Ellen.

“Choose wisely and learn what it takes to stay happily married,” I blurted out. Yet many of us first need to believe that we can succeed in marriage.

It’s strange, when you think about it, how little planning is typically undertaken when it comes to decisions about marriage. Do romance and planning sound like concepts that don’t belong in the same sentence? In fact, both are needed for a good marriage.

Why shouldn’t planning happen?
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Ethics & Morality

4 Steps to Setting Healthy Personal Boundaries


Sometimes it just feels easier to please others than to stand up for what we really want. Why? Maybe we don’t like confrontation. Or maybe we just like making other people happy. That’s not a bad thing. It can feel great to give others what they want, but it’s important to recognize when they overstep the mark.

Personal boundaries are how we set our personal limits. They are how we separate ourselves as individuals from the influence and intentions of others. They are an essential tool for communicating our needs, our integrity and our self-worth, both to others and to ourselves.

Without them, negative emotions such as resentment, guilt, frustration or shame could take hold. Your relationships may become frayed, and your self-respect could suffer.
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General

Surprising Ways that Shame Can Serve Us


We often hear about the destructive aspects of shame -- how it’s toxic to our happiness and well-being. As a psychotherapist, I continually see how shame holds people back. But can there be a healthy and helpful aspect to shame?

Shame is that painful sense that tells us we’re flawed and defective. Bret Lyon and Sheila Rubin, who lead popular workshops for helping professionals, describe shame as "a primary emotion and a freeze state, which has a profound effect on personal development and relationship success."

Believing that there is something inherently wrong with us, we're robbed of the capacity to feel good about ourselves, accept ourselves, and affirm our basic goodness, which has a crippling effect on our lives. Such shame may be so painful that we dissociate from it -- no longer even noticing it.
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Anger

How to De-Escalate Fights with Family Members

Ever find yourself on the receiving end of verbal attack? Many people have loved ones who lash out in verbally abusive ways. Some of these people refuse to listen to reason when angry. They take no accountability for their role in creating strife. They might insist that you are the cause of their abusive behavior and they would stop hurting you if only you would change. But relationships are always about two people. Each person interacts and affects the other.

For example, Moira, a 45-year-old wife and mother of three, was abused as a child. Moira was easily triggered into jealous rages. These rages could be set off by the smallest thing: perhaps her husband glanced inadvertently at another woman, or complimented a coworker. Or perhaps her teenage daughter talked back to Moira or expressed affection for a teacher, igniting Moira’s jealousy.

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Books

Living a Life by Design Instead of by Default

Some days, or maybe most days, you might feel like a passenger in the backseat of your own car. You are being driven to destinations you don’t want to go by a driver you didn’t pick. You feel stretched too thin. You are exhausted. You feel overwhelmed. You are attending events you’d rather not attend. Your to-do list is filled with tasks you don’t want to do. And the things you do want to do? Somehow those aren’t on the list.

This might mean that you're living life by default, not by design.

Thankfully, this is something you can change. In his eye-opening book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown shares valuable tips on how we can start living (and working) by design. Essentialism is pursuing less and better (versus trying to get everything done). It is constantly asking the question: “Am I investing in the right activities?” And by "right," he means whatever is essential to you. It is being deliberate and thoughtful about our days.
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: May 21, 2016


They're at the tailend of the U.K.'s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) across the pond!

Similar to October's Mental Illness Awareness Week here in the U.S., the U.K.'s MHAW, supported by the Mental Health Foundation, is all about educating people about mental health and helping people learn the importance of taking care of their mental health.

Thus, you'll see some U.K.-related information in this week's post, including news about the royal's latest mental health campaign and new information about psychedelics and depression. Also catch up on the latest about relationships and mental health, strategies for better sleep, and the importance of doing things by yourself.

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Publishers

True Story: How I Survived My Possessive, Abusive Relationship


Love doesn’t provoke you to sob in a corner. It doesn’t put a fist through your wall.

This article discusses my personal account of an incredibly serious matter. If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence or abuse of any kind, I urge you to seek help. You may reach The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Don’t wait. This moment is your life, and your life matters.

Once there was a girl who floated through life feeling as though she had been drugged by sadness. She often wore a smile for others but underneath the mask was a sea of pain. One day her state of sadness gripped her in a most unyielding chokehold as she sat in her car in a busy parking lot, feeling as though she had become a prisoner to hopelessness. In that moment, it would have been a death sentence if she had attempted to drive.
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Family

What to Do with a Cruel Inner Critic

Our inner critic might be loud and clear: I’m such an idiot! It’s always my fault. I can’t do anything right. What is wrong with me? I don’t deserve this happiness. I don’t deserve this success.

Or our inner critic might be more subtle -- and even unknown to us. Yet it still exerts its power, dictating the actions we take.

Each of us has an inner critic. Some inner critics are crueler than others. As we grow up, our self-worth and self-esteem derive their roots from our environment and surroundings. Our caregivers and anyone close to us has a big effect on both.
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