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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Creativity

Boredom Can Be Dangerous for Mental Illness

While I always recommend making time for relaxation, there’s one facet to having time on your hands that I must caution about.

All too often people with mental illness are left with idle time, myself included, which can lead to trouble. Spare time means more opportunity to worry and overanalyze things that happen. This is common among anxiety sufferers, but it can be even more of a problem for people in my situation, namely people who are living with schizophrenia.

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Celebrities

Whom Do You Respect?

Take a minute and consider the question, whom do you respect? Should this be a long list or a very short one? The problem with a long list is the candidates probably can’t be well vetted. A short list may make us out to be too cynical.

Let’s define the size of the list. You can only put five names on this esteemed list. This won’t restrict you, just possibly be a cause for adjustment of the definition.

Maybe you’ve gotten this far and can’t figure out why you should bother to make such a list. It’s because this list is a reflection of who you have become, failed to become, or still desire to become.
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Disorders

6 Ways to Start Practicing Self-Compassion — Even If You Believe You’re Undeserving

For many of us being kind to ourselves is hard. It’s hard even when we’re struggling -- and need compassion most. Instead, we get mad. We tell ourselves to buck up. We wonder why we’re so weak. We criticize and hurl insults. We withhold our favorite things -- telling ourselves that we don’t deserve to participate in enjoyable activities, because after all, we screwed up everything.

But the good news is that we can learn to cultivate self-compassion. Which is vital.
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Anger

Don’t Let Defensiveness Stand in the Way of Personal Growth

I can remember watching the popular girls in my elementary school bully another student, I'll call her Megan, because they thought she was “weird.” They would say rude things to her all day, making fun of her hair, her drawings, the way she spoke. And Megan would just sit there silently through it all, not even looking at them. She'd keep doing her homework, drawing, playing. Sadly, the other kids and I didn’t make any effort to help her, lest the mean girls turned their sights on us.

Megan was turning the other cheek, but I just didn’t get -- not then. I figured they were teasing her because she didn’t fight back. I promised myself I’d always fight back. Of course that only got me into a whole new kind of trouble -- Defensiveness.
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General

How to Stay Motivated When You Get Turned Down for a Raise or Promotion

It’s time for your annual review, and you’re gunning for a raise. You enter the meeting with your boss armed with a list of reasons why you deserve a salary bump, including the extra responsibilities you’ve taken on since a more senior colleague left the company, the major project you spearheaded last month, and the consistent positive feedback you’ve received from your clients, peers, managers, and direct reports over the past year.

With the supporting points you’ve gathered, you’re confident that you’ve got this in the bag.

But after you deliver your points, you’re crushed to hear your supervisor say, “I’m sorry, but we’re not able to adjust your salary at this point in time. Check back in six months, and keep up the good work.”
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Family

What’s Your Name?

What’s your name? My name is Thomas Winterman, and I used to be a fat guy. Whew! It feels good to say that. No really, it’s nice to be able to call a spade a spade. I used to speak in code with words like “husky” or “large,” but I never allowed myself to say what I was.

I used to be fat, and it was not a good look on me. I was 275 pounds at my heaviest, and I was at (or near) my heaviest for a very long time. I loathed exercise and loved Taco Bell, a double chin recipe if I’ve ever heard one. When people said my name, they thought “fat guy.”

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Anxiety and Panic

Social Anxiety: 5 Truths and How to Relieve the Suffering

"Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us, when in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen and taking flight.” -- Brené Brown
About fifteen million adults suffer from social anxiety according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Fifteen million. And we’re not just talking about what you’d call shyness. We’re talking about big fears of judgment and scrutinization from others.

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Brain and Behavior

The Importance of Being Yourself on Social Media


Over the last few months I’ve been sharing my photography on Instagram. It has resulted in a near-constant desire for validation through likes and follows -- I’ll write another article on that soon. The point is, scrolling through the newsfeed, I see copious amounts of photographers who are at the top of their game. Their craft is so refined and their style is so distinct that I can’t help but fawn over the pictures they take.

I decided I wanted my pictures to be like that. I really needed my pictures to be like that. Soon my admiration became a months-long effort to hone and refine my pictures to the point that they’d look exactly like these Instagram-famous photographers' photos.
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Anger

Transforming My Angry Tightness

Last year, my husband Jon wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do. Jon promised his father they would speak on the phone at a certain time. So I had to leave Connecticut earlier than I wanted (to find cell phone reception), cutting short my lovely Sunday afternoon in the country. I felt myself get “tight” in my body, angry at having to make the accommodation.

I am not proud of my selfish reaction. Nevertheless I was powerless to stop it. My body tightened and I pushed back, asking Jon in a complaining voice, “What’s the big deal if you talk to your dad later?” But Jon insisted, claiming he made a promise he wanted to keep. So we rushed out the door.

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