Self-Help Articles

6 Common Obstacles in Couples Therapy

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

6 Common Obstacles in Couples TherapyCouples therapy can help couples improve their relationship in many ways. For instance, it helps couples resolve conflict, learn how to communicate effectively, better understand each other, enhance their emotional connection and strengthen their bond.

Naturally, couples may face obstacles in therapy that stall their progress. They may have inaccurate assumptions about how therapy works, which can keep them stuck. Or they may delay seeing a therapist in the first place, which only deepens their problems.

We asked two relationship experts to share the most common obstacles along with what couples can do to overcome them.

When Things Don’t Turn Out How You’d Hoped, Expected or Planned

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

When Things Don’t Turn Out How You’d Hoped, Expected or PlannedMaybe you took a job that was supposed to be fulfilling, but you dread going to work. Maybe you studied intensely for many months but still didn’t pass the bar. Maybe you thought you’d be married by now, but you aren’t even dating anyone. Maybe you poured your heart into a project or relationship only to get fired or break up. Maybe you and your kids aren’t as close as you were before.

When life doesn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, planned or expected, we feel tremendous disappointment and start doubting everything, including ourselves, writes Christine Hassler, a life coach and speaker, in her book Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love and Life.

The Power of Music

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Music and EmotionsI’ve known the lows of depression, I’ve known the terror of delusions and paranoia and I’ve known the itchiness of anxiety. In every instance, I know I need to calm down. Most times this means going home pulling the covers up and putting on soft music. I do it so much that it’s become something completely natural. Feeling bad? Put on music. It’s almost automatic and because of that I’ve started to take this simple technique for granted.

Music is something magical. It’s salve for all of life’s emotional wounds and I would be remiss in talking about coping techniques if I didn’t talk about music.

Are You Working for a Psychopath?

Monday, December 8th, 2014

talking_to_boss.original

Every boss has his or her moments when grumpiness or a negative attitude takes hold, causing them to lash out. Our superiors are human, after all, and they are entitled to bad days just like anyone else.

But have you ever worked for someone who seemed to constantly run hot and cold: charming and funny one second, then vicious and manipulative the next? If a power-wielding bully dominates your workplace, you could very likely be working for a psychopath.

5 Playful Prompts for Creating a Meaningful Life

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

5 Playful Prompts for Creating a Meaningful LifePlay is powerful. I’ve written before about the importance of play for adults. Many of us dismiss play because we assume that once we become adults, it’s time to get serious, get to work and chip away at our to-do lists.

But play actually makes us more productive (in addition to providing us with more joy). That’s because play moves us.

According to Marney K. Makridakis in her excellent book Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life, “When it comes to the intersection of play and productivity, the secret is quite simple: what moves us is what moves us, which simply means what moves us emotionally is what moves us to action.”

Play is never “still, stuck or stagnant; it somehow always moves. So when it comes to manifesting a meaningful life, play works.”

Play is a creative and fun way to discover what a meaningful life looks for us. What does a meaningful life encompass? How can we create it?

4 Key Elements of Healthy Love

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

The Elements of Healthy LoveThere are a lot of relationship paradigms being offered out there. There are even more quotes and advice offerings on what relationship success looks like and how to attain it. Many of these espouse ideas of true love conquering all, enduring all, being all. They involve accepting another’s faults completely and without question, with an ideal of compromise, hard work, and enduring all to achieve the end goal.

While many of these concepts are noble and true, between the beautiful and the cliche, they are only applicable in the right relationship.

In the wrong relationships, these same concepts are being used as reasons to stay because we still want to believe that love is enough all by itself. What we know is that love, in and of itself, is not enough. The wrong relationship can take these qualities that would make the right relationship thrive and endure and instead make excuses for our (or our partner’s) lack of health, toxic markers and red flags.

How to Sit with Someone Else’s Pain

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

How to Sit with Someone Else’s PainA few months ago I wrote about how we can sit with our own painful emotions. Often we don’t. Instead, we gloss over negative feelings. We self-medicate. We berate ourselves for having negative feelings, making us feel even worse. (I can’t believe I’m upset about something so small! I’m so sensitive. I’m so stupid for feeling anxious about that.)

What’s also difficult is sitting with someone else’s pain and supporting them. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable — especially if we have a hard time with our own emotions. Our knee-jerk reaction may be to ignore what’s happening, offer solutions, be overly positive or act on any number of behaviors that dismiss the person’s feelings.

ADHD & Adults: Help for Organizing Your Household

Friday, December 5th, 2014

ADHD & Adults: Help for Organizing Your Household Almost every symptom of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) plays out in the household, said Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW, a psychotherapist and author of the book The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus and Get More Done.

Disorganization and distractibility lead to lost papers, unpaid bills, piles of laundry and lots of clutter, which can negatively affect relationships and spark blowups, she said.

Lack of planning leads to late dinners, leading to both cranky kids and parents, she said. (Plus, many kids with ADHD also are picky eaters, which complicates meal-planning even more, she added.)

How to Make Peace with Your Childhood

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

How to Make Peace with Your ChildhoodYour childhood probably is tucked safely away in the past. But many of us underestimate the degree to which childhood events continue to affect our adult lives. It’s hard to imagine that events that occurred decades ago can stay with us, but underestimating their effects — even into adulthood — can be detrimental to our well-being.

Our most critical and influential developmental stages occur in childhood. We’re like sponges, absorbing the good and the bad all around us. It’s during this time that we develop our view of the world and of ourselves. These viewpoints may be developed early on but they often leave a permanent imprint.

How to Use Affirmations to Combat Negative Self Talk

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

negative mind map

Have you ever pasted up a big sign on your bathroom mirror that says something like, “You are beautiful!” to try to improve your mood and self esteem? And found that it works not at all?

We all have a mean voice inside our heads that criticizes us, often much more harshly than we would ever criticize another person. For many of us, this negative self talk manifests as specific repeating phrases, especially when we are feeling stressed or upset: “You’re such a failure.” “You’re so ugly.” “You can’t do anything right.” You’d never say this to another person, but there it is, knocking around inside your head.

How to Find a Therapist You Love

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

How to Find a Therapist You LoveWhen I was struggling with my eating disorder, I’d have particularly awful days. Often, it involved me crying into my carpet and wishing I didn’t exist. In those moments, when life was heavy and pressing, I was willing to reach out for help, but I didn’t know where to begin.

My eating disorder was a shameful secret, so naturally I didn’t want to elaborate to the random secretary who answered the phone. I did leave an awkward message or two on a voicemail.

Holiday Survival When Anxious or Depressed

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Holiday Survival When Anxious or DepressedFor those of us who suffer from anxiety or depression, the holiday season can prove especially challenging. The juxtaposition of unhappy thoughts alongside the cheery Christmas music, nostalgic movies dripping with holiday sentimentality, and advertisements displaying jubilant people celebrating the season can make us feel even worse.

The American Psychological Association lists financial concerns, unrealistic expectations, and the inability to be with certain family members and friends as contributing factors to holiday anxiety. Mix in the stressors of shopping, family reunions, travel, office parties, and dealing with houseguests, and no wonder this seasonal “cheer” can be a landmine.

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