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The Fine Line Between Self-Confidence & Cockiness

We all know people who sing their own praises at every work or social opportunity. You may sometimes wonder if they know something about self-confidence that you don’t. Perhaps their annoying habit is a sign that they’ve discovered some secret to waking up every day feeling ready to conquer the world. Truly, the line between self-confidence and arrogance can seem finer than it really is.

Cocky or Confident?

Cocky people do have confidence, but it comes from a different place than true self-assurance. Arrogance is one result of building self-esteem from outward sources such as financial privilege or constant praise. However, yank the external support system away, and the person’s sense of self-worth goes with it.

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Therapists Spill: My New Year’s Resolution

The end of the year is a time for self-reflection, while the beginning brings a clean slate, hope and new-found motivation, said Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression.

That’s why so many people use this time to create resolutions. In our monthly series, "Therapists Spill," we wanted to know what goals clinicians are setting for their fresh starts.

For instance, Serani is setting both personal and professional goals -- with an emphasis on realistic resolutions.
I like to set realistic goals for myself each year. Some are personal, like exercising more and eating better. Others are professional, such as researching a new subject or presenting at a conference. Of course, I don't always achieve all these goals. But for me, I know that thinking about change leads me toward change. And that's a good way to start the year.

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Top 10 Psychology and Mental Health Topics of 2012

Can 2012 be coming to a close already? It's staggering (and psychologically interesting!) how some years seem to last forever, while others just fly by.

We're honored to have so many people check out our mental health and psychology resources and information on Psych Central -- over 3 million people a month now. We're also home to over 180 online support groups with over 275,000 members in two communities. The Psych Central Personality Test has also been a big hit this year (and a quick and easy way to see what kinds of things make you tick!).

The good news about 2013 is that every new year brings with it the possibility of a new start and changing some of those aspects about yourself that perhaps could use a little improvement. We’ll be here for you to help you with those goals, as we are every year.

Click through to see our top 10 lists for the World of Psychology blog, our entire blog network, and from our news bureau.

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12 New Year’s Resolutions to Boost Your Relationship

As one year ends and another begins, it’s a good time to reflect on what went well and what you’d like to improve. That’s where relationship resolutions come in.

Relationships rarely thrive without some effort from both partners. That’s why we asked three relationship experts to offer their tips on setting resolutions that truly boost our romantic bonds. Here are 12 resolutions to help your relationship flourish in 2013.

1. Put your relationship first.

Clinical psychologist Meredith Hansen, Psy.D, suggested partners “Make each other a priority.” For instance, check in with each other during the day, spend quality time together during the week or go on a date at least once a month, she said.

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Merry Christmas 2012

I’d like to take this moment to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

May the joy and peace of the season be with your family, your friends, and most of all, with you. Whether you spend it with others or on your own, remember that the holiday lasts for only a very short time each year -- so savor it. (And if you’re not a great lover of this holiday, well, it’ll...
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Politics, Tragedy, and the Unfriending of America

The election, the 100-year storm with the deceptively cutesy moniker, an (alleged) war on Christmas, and now, yet another tragic mass shooting have further heightened the intensity of perceived alliances and divisions within e-friendships. It has led this temperamentally wary shrink to wonder, “who is ‘e-friend’ vs. -foe?’”

Our postings in the ether expose our true feelings to an extent far beyond what we might normally reveal. Facebook (and other social media) leads us to disclose things that we might not otherwise share freely. It creates a paradoxical sense of privacy that dissipates as soon as we click “post.”

Although postings enable us to connect with others we might not otherwise, highly charged public events incite us to share sentiments that are intensely emotional and potentially very divisive.

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Psychosis In the Waiting Room

Last week, sniffling and certain that I might perish at any moment, I made an appointment with my doctor. I am an impatient person. This is why I make appointments when seeing my physician. I assume he will stick to a schedule and I will enter and exit, with a prescription in hand, within fifteen minutes. A nice, compact, amount of time.

This time I was left waiting. Children screamed and people who may be as impatient as I am moved their legs up and down rapidly. Everyone made a socially concerted effort not to look at each other.

I decided to settle in and read. At the rate the room was moving -- sort of like a turnover rate at a bad job -- it was clear I had at least 30 minutes longer to wait.

I have always found 'literature' in doctors' offices disconcerting, though equally fascinating. After all, where can you find a magazine on parenting (a beautiful woman is holding a golden-haired toddler) and a celebrity magazine (apparently, Angelina Jolie has adopted five children from Nigeria) sitting side by side?

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Psych Central Responds to the NRA on the Sandy Hook Tragedy

On Friday, the National Rifle Association, a special interest group of 4 million members, released a statement about the Sandy Hook tragedy that occurred a week earlier. In that tragedy, 20 children were murdered by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Few details have been officially released yet about Lanza's life, because he had few friends, was shy, and apparently was socially awkward.

However, that hasn't stopped the news media from focusing on some statements of relatives who believe Lanza either had a "personality disorder" (says his brother), "was autistic" (again, his brother), or had Asperger's syndrome (told by an unidentified member of the family).

This second-hand information is then held up by both the news media and now by the National Rifle Association as evidence that Adam Lanza must've been "crazy" or "insane" to have killed 20 innocent children, and six adults who tried to protect them.

After all, who would do such a thing but someone who's crazy?

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Newtown, Narcissism, and the Romancing of Rage

How do we respond constructively to the terrible carnage in Newtown, CT?

Many voices have already been heard on this vexing question. But only a few commentators have recognized that such rare and tragic events are but a small part of the widespread violence in this country.

A mass shooting may be likened to the sudden eruption of a volcano on a slowly sinking island -- the volcano gets the attention and publicity, and few stop to ask why the island is sinking.

To be sure, we must reduce the easy availability of lethal weapons and ammunition in this country; improve access to mental health services for severely disturbed persons; and enhance our coordination with school personnel, so that we can prevent alienated and disaffected youth from acting on their violent impulses. No other considerations should distract us from these goals, or be used as an excuse for inaction on any front -- particularly with respect to firearms control.

And yet, more fundamentally, we must also address what I call “the romancing of rage” in our society -- the many ways in which American culture fosters and even valorizes angry, aggressive behavior.

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The Biggest Myths About Girls with ADHD

It’s only in recent years that ADHD is becoming better understood in girls and women. But we still have a long way to go, according to Terry Matlen, ACSW, a psychotherapist and coach who specializes in ADHD. She noted that we need to improve how we identify girls with ADHD, evaluate them and administer treatment.

In fact, the biggest myth about ADHD and girls is that girls don’t have the disorder in the first place. However, ADHD affects both girls and boys at roughly the same rate, said Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, a psychotherapist and author of several books on ADHD, including Making the Grade with ADD and Adult ADD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed.

Boys with ADHD tend to have a more obvious and classic presentation. They typically exhibit hyperactivity and impulsivity. In short, they stand out more.

Girls, however, are harder to spot because they internalize their symptoms and usually don’t exhibit behavioral problems at school, said Matlen, also author of Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD.

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9 Tips for Surviving Holiday Stress

According to the American Psychological Association, stress is on the rise in America, with nearly half of Americans reporting that stress is having a negative impact on their personal and professional lives.  Although the holidays can be a time of joy, they often bring with them additional stressors.

During the holidays we are often surrounded with images of people who are happy, in love and enjoying the whirlwind of their lives.  In reality, however, this time of year can be difficult.  When our lives don’t match the images we see around us or live up to our own ideals of family and friendship, it can be painful. And spreading all that good cheer, creating traditions and memories can be tiring and can exacerbate daily pressures and hassles.

The following tips are designed to help you find relaxation during this often-emotional time and to improve how you are thinking or feeling about the moment and the season.

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Need a Fun, Easy Holiday Tradition? A Graham-Cracker House

This weekend, my daughters and I made our graham-cracker houses. As I write about in Happier at Home, every year, instead of traditional gingerbread houses, we make graham cracker houses, which are easier to build and decorate.

Every year -- this also seems to be part of the tradition -- I almost forget to organize the house-building, until it’s almost too late. But we’ve always managed to do it.

I learned how to make graham-cracker houses when my older daughter was in kindergarten; I was a parent helper when the children made them as part of a unit on “home.” (Coincidence? Or not?)

For me, one of the most important aspects of home is the celebration of traditions -- like the building of these houses. Family traditions mark time in a happy way and give a sense both of anticipation and continuity.

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