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POPULAR ARTICLES

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

When You Have Been Betrayed

Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Feedback, Self-Efficacy and the Development of Motor skills

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Performance Enhancement in the Martial Arts: A Review

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?





RECENT ARTICLES

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy



NEW AUDIOS

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

Day of Fishing Mindfulness

Audio Version of Article: Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

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PSYCHNOTES

Previous

Meditating Buddha October 24, 2014

Yogic Breath Training

Yogic breath is a meditative type of breathing that is often good to use at the beginning of your daily meditative practice. However, it can also be practiced periodically throughout the day.

Although this method is not for immediate anxiety relief, the daily practice of it can help prevent or reduce overall levels of anxiety.

Initially, when you begin this practice you may not be able to do it as slowly as it is described. Start with a count that is comfortable for you and eventually you will be able to gradually slow down your breath. The transcript for the audio is included so that you can practice this method in the way that works best for you.



October 20, 2014

Older, but Happier

Although as people age and they experience more health problems, more losses, and other significant changes in their lives, research shows that older people are happier. Specifically, fifty appears to be the magic number in which overall well-being improves and anger, stress, and worry decline. Interestingly, sadness doesn't change as much as these other states (Stone, et al., 2010).

Why Are People Happier As They Grow Older? An opinion.

Most young people are focused on external validation which means their self-assessment is based on achievement and outside opinions. In other words, they need to achieve at work and/or school, obtain the approval of others, raise successful children, and acquire objects of status such as homes, cars, and other material items. Such a focus tends to be stressful, competitive, and not completely under their control. They are at the mercy of outside forces such as the economy and the decisions of other people. As a result, they may worry about uncontrollable events that interfere with their goals and they become easily frustrated with others who get in their way.

However, wisdom comes with aging. In particular, older people more frequently have developed a sense of internal validation which is a self-assessment based upon self-esteem, sense of purpose, and other qualities that are based within the individual. Thus, for the most part, they don't try to control external events or other people. They have developed a more mindful attitude towards life which allows them to be more at peace with all experience instead of trying to make life what they believe it “should” be. This attitude of acceptance tends to reduce anger, stress, and worry, although sadness is likely to still be present when relevant such as when losses occur.

Stone, A.A., Schwartz, J.E., Brodericka, J.E. and Deaton, A. (2010). A snapshot of the age distribution of psychological well-being in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 9985-9990. doi.10.1073.pnas.1003744107



October 15, 2014

Anxiety Disorders May Not Be As Prevalent As We Thought

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released a survey of the prevalence of mental disorders in the U.S. population. The survey evaluated the presence of a disorder in the previous year. Interesting, this survey showed much lower one-year prevalence* rates for anxiety disorders than previous major studies.

Although the one-year prevalence for the depressive disorders is down slightly from about 9% of the population to 7%, the prevalence for anxiety disorders is substantially lower. Overall, anxiety disorders has dropped from 19% of the population to a little less than 6% with the largest drops in Social Phobia and Specific Phobias.

What does this mean? Is mental illness decreasing in our population? Or, is there a problem with the way these studies have been conducted? If so, which one is accurate?

The previous comparison study conducted from 2001-2003 involved in-person interviews conducted by lay persons with no professional training using a script of questions without follow-up. The current study involved telephone interviews conducted by clinically trained interviewers who could ask follow-up questions to ascertain the diagnosis. Thus, this study could be illuminating problems with the different interview questionnaires used and how the interviews were conducted.

My tendency is to think that the current study may have been a more rigorous study due to the use of clinically-trained professionals and reflects the actual rates of mental illness. Therefore, the prevalence rates haven't changed but the way they are measured influences the outcome. In other words, anxiety disorders are not decreasing but may have been over-estimated in the past.

*Note: One-year prevalence is typically much lower than lifetime prevalence as it is measuring how many people can be diagnosed with the disorder at any particular time versus how many people may have the disorder at some point in their lives. Since many of these disorders aren't present throughout the lifetime but only periodically or for a short time, the rates will differ significantly.

Karg, R.S., Bose, J., Batts, K.R., Forman-Hoffman, V.L., Liao, D., Hirsch, E., Pemberton, M.R., Colpe, L.J. and Hedden, S.L. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (2014). Past Year Mental Disorders among Adults in the United States: Results from the 2008-2012 Mental Health Surveillance Study. http://beta.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DR-N2MentalDis-2014-1/Web/NSDUH-DR-N2MentalDis-2014.htm



October 10, 2014

Choose Your Own Dream: Don't Pursue What You “Should”

Often, young people feel pressure from parents, teachers, and others to pursue certain goals in life. These goals may not be the passion of the young person, but instead, reflect the expectations of others. In cognitive therapy, we refer to these as “shoulds” which, in this case, is an irrational belief about the necessity of meeting the demands of others. As a result of this pressure, many young people choose educational goals and careers that do not reflect their own dreams, desires, or goals.

Certainly, the people applying pressure probably have good intentions and believe they know what is best for the young person. However, the problem is that success is related to developing intrinsic goals based on the individual's interests and passions (Koestner, 2008). A person who pursues a career or interest because of the expectations of others is less likely to be motivated which leads to being less successful.

What does this mean?

If you are a young person, pursue your dream no matter the demands of others. If you are a parent or teacher, recognize that motivation and success comes from the young person discovering and choosing what is personally meaningful.

Koestner, R. (2008). Reaching One’s Personal Goals: A Motivational Perspective Focused on Autonomy. Canadian Psychology, 49, 60 – 67. DOI: 10.1037/0708-5591.49.1.60



October 8, 2014

Help Translate!

Please help translate Excel At Life's apps if English is your second language or you have expertise in other languages. People the world over have requested translations saying that they do not have access to the type of information and help provided by Excel At Life. Help others get the help they need!

Excel At Life is using Crowdin to translate our android apps. Join our project here: Crowdin.com. You can help as little or as much as you like. A "crowd" project means the more people who help translate, proofread, and vote on the translations will insure a good translation.

The Cognitive Diary app is the basis for many of the other apps so once it is translated much of it can be used for the translations of the other apps.



October 7, 2014

Announcing: Excel At Life's PsychNotes have been indexed!

Now it is easier to find PsychNotes according to topic of interest: Index



October 4, 2014

New Article: What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

When practicing the techniques described by Excel At Life, people want to know when they should feel better. This is a difficult question to answer because it requires an assessment of each situation which is why it is best to practice these techniques under the guidance of a MCBT therapist. However, in this article I will discuss what to expect and how to assess your practice.

What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT)?

1) Cognitive Therapy. First, CBT is a type of treatment that focuses on how you think (cognitive) by examining the accuracy of your thoughts about yourself, others, and the problems you face. Then, when thoughts are found to be an inaccurate appraisal, cognitive therapy helps to change these thoughts by developing a more accurate (or rational) way to think or approach the situation. Once a believable rational has been developed, the idea is to frequently express this new thought to create the new pathway (connections) in the brain.

2) Behavioral Therapy. CBT uses a variety of techniques to help change a person's behavior. These methods can include goal-setting, communication training, relaxation and biofeedback, behavior modification, and exposure methods as well as many others. The commonality of these methods is they are meant to affect the behavior.

3) Mindfulness. Although a technique that has often been included under the behavioral methods of CBT, mindfulness has taken a more prominent role due to its influence upon the other methods and its overall impact in the therapy. Mindfulness is an approach that is present-focused and teaches to refocus when engaged in the depressive or anxious thoughts.

4) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. CBT has a history of bringing under its umbrella any techniques that have been shown to be effective. Since cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and mindfulness have all been shown to be effective, they have been combined into MCBT. So MCBT isn't a new therapy, nor is it necessarily one specific treatment used for all similar cases, but it is the use of a variety of methods that are chosen based upon each individual's problem. Thus, MCBT may look very different for each client because it is specifically designed for each person and problem.

If you examine most self-help books you can see the influence of CBT running through them. Similarly, many specific therapies for certain types of problems are often just a set of methods chosen from CBT to address a certain problem. For example, when I have had discussions with DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) practitioners, I haven't been able to determine the difference between that therapy and MCBT except that DBT spells out certain specific techniques to use for treating trauma. Also, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) uses the CBT methods while adding in the eye movement component but has not been shown to be any more effective than CBT alone (Seidler and Wagner, 2006). I'm not saying that these methods aren't effective. I'm just saying that I would tend to categorize them under the umbrella of MCBT. Some people may swear by the differences they have experienced from these various therapies but I suspect it may be due to individual preference or a difference in the therapists seen by the individual (see my article: Does CBT Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist).

Read complete article



September 28, 2014

New Article: DOES COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY LACK COMPASSION? IT DEPENDS UPON THE THERAPIST

A complaint often heard about cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is that clients may experience it as harsh and demanding. People turn to therapy for a sympathetic ear, reassurance, and help with addressing an overwhelming problem. Unfortunately, many people report that their experience with CBT and its focus on changing irrational thinking and maladaptive behavior is offensive, belittling, and impersonal (patient forums on the internet).

Why Has CBT Lacked Compassion?

1) The therapist's approach. In my opinion, as a CBT therapist, the problem is not CBT itself but how it is presented by the therapist. Although CBT has been consistently shown in laboratory experiments to be an effective, if not superior, treatment for depression and anxiety, the story is more murky when examining real-world psychotherapy outcomes (Beutler et al., 2012; Nathan et al., 2000). In particular, laboratory studies involve very specific protocols for treatment whereas real-world studies are dependent upon the decisions of the individual therapist. As a result, real-world treatment depends more upon the qualities of the therapist such as warmth and empathy and how the therapist presents the treatment.

2) Demands by healthcare companies. A complicating factor has been that CBT is often considered a treatment of choice by managed care insurance companies because it can be conducted from a manual, and thus, is considered simpler to provide. Such a feature has been attractive to these companies because their provider panels tend to use less experienced and less educated mental health professionals which keeps their costs down (Seligman and Levant, 1998). However, research consistently shows that the experience of the therapist is related to the effectiveness of the treatment even more so than the type of therapy (Hubbert, et al., 2001).

As a result of the manualized approach encouraged by the insurance companies and implemented by less experienced therapists, many clients are on the receiving end of a step-by-step procedural CBT that is lacking. CBT is anything but simple when implemented correctly!

Read complete article



September 21, 2014

PsychNote: VALUE YOUR PARTNER TO REDUCE FEELINGS OF REJECTION DURING DISAGREEMENTS

The desire to marry often involves a yearning to be fully accepted and valued by another person. Loving someone signifies a willingness to give oneself completely to the other person trusting that this person will provide an embrace of acceptance. Yet, this very act creates vulnerability and opens the possibility for deep hurt for some people.

Feeling valued in the relationship critically impacts how someone handles everyday disagreements. Those who do not feel valued may feel rejected when their spouse disagrees or criticizes. As a result, they are more likely to engage in self-protective behaviors including anger, resentment, withdrawal and attempts to hurt the other. While those who feel valued by their partner are more likely to draw closer to the partner after a disagreement to show regard and affection in spite of the disagreement (Murray, et al., 2003).

The unfortunate consequence of this dynamic is that those who do not feel valued will often create an environment that fosters rejection by engaging in the self-protective behaviors. For instance, when a disagreement occurs they say something hurtful to their partner which is likely to produce a similar response in return. Or, when they feel rejected, they withdraw which causes the partner to feel hurt and rejected. Thus, this behavior becomes a vicious cycle creating more of the same.

How can this cycle be changed?

Many times when people want to change this dynamic, they think “We need to stop arguing.” However, not only is this easier said than done, it is not necessary. It is often easier to increase positive interactions than to control negative interactions. Changing the focus of the relationship from “How do I protect myself from hurt?” to “How do I show my loved one I value him/her even when I disagree?” can be done in a number of ways:

1) Thank your partner. Frequently, as often as you can, look for the good things your partner does and comment on them. Often, it is too easy to dismiss what they do with the idea “he/she SHOULD do that.” However, think about it, if a stranger fixed your car or prepared dinner, would you thank that person? If so, treat your spouse as well as you would a stranger.

2) Praise your partner. When you first met your spouse, both of you were most likely complimenting one another frequently. Continue to do that! Sometimes people say their spouse doesn't do anything to compliment. However, that is unlikely. This is the person you chose to spend your life with and if you choose to focus on the positives you could find them.

3) Touch your partner. Simple, non-sexual, touch conveys affection and regard whether it is a hug, holding hands, sitting next to one another, or gently touching the cheek. Such touch needs to be frequent, many times a day, although it does not need to be lengthy.

4) Do something for your partner. Instead of feeling bothered or annoyed by a request, see it as an opportunity to value your partner. Try to do something that is meaningful for your partner, not necessarily what you want your partner to do for you.

5) Listen to your partner. Again, how often do people give their full attention to a stranger or acquaintance but tend to ignore or half-attend to their partner? When a person is listened to they sense high regard from the other person. They feel valued. It doesn't matter if you've heard their story already. Show interest in what your partner has to say.

These are all simple behaviors that can be done many times a day to show a partner that he or she is valued. When a person feels valued generally, they are less likely to feel rejected when a disagreement occurs which can help change the negative cycle described above into a positive one of closeness and acceptance.

One final caveat: Don't take this article, shove it in your partner's face, and say: "See? This is what you should be doing!" That sort of defeats the message. Interestingly, when one person makes an effort to change these behaviors, the other partner will often respond in kind. In other words, be a model for the behavior you desire.

Murray, S.L., Bellavia, G.M., Rose, P. and Griffin, D.W. (2003). Once Hurt, Twice Hurtful: How Perceived Regard Regulates Daily Marital Interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84,126–147. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.1.126



September 19, 2014

New article: WHEN NEEDS COME INTO CONFLICT

Recently, a website reader submitted a passive-aggressive example to Excel At Life for suggestions. However, this example appears to be a case of when needs come in conflict rather than passive-aggressive behavior (although there is certainly passive-aggressive behavior present):

“My husband and I had a new house built. Our first home was agreed upon to become a rental property. The rental property, we agreed, would pay for our daughter's college education. One week before moving into our new home, my husband canceled the lease that I obtained through a realtor and informed me that his cousin was moving in. You guessed it: the rent was always late and my husband started picking the rent up piecemeal. Didn't work out. Cousin eventually moved out and we had to pay for a moving van! This scenario played out twice more, costing us tens of thousands of dollars. I'm crying all the time, my hair fell out and my daughter's college tuition is still unpaid. Today, my husband claims that he does not understand! When approaching my husband concerning the rental property, I said, “Honey, talk to me, please explain what is happening, we agreed what was the purpose.” Further, I stated to my husband that he went behind my back and offered my sister a lease although my sister came to me and I told her that I needed to speak with my husband. I asked my husband again, what is going on and explained to him that family, friends and business should never mix. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for an explanation, he moved his nephew's family in without consulting me as if we had never talked at all. All of this took place between 2000 thru 2008 and my husband will not talk at all when this subject is brought up. We went to counseling over this issue in 2004 and after one session, he said to the counselor, 'my wife is grieving her mother and we will not need any other help.' By the way, my mother passed away in 2009!”

This example illustrates the problem of when couples are faced with important needs that are in direct conflict with one another. In other words, meeting one person's need means not meeting the other person's need. READ RESPONSE



September 16, 2014

PsychNote: HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU PRACTICE MINDFULNESS?

While mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce psychological distress, improve attention, and even reduce physical illness, researchers recently found that the amount of mindfulness practice is not as important as the quality of practice (Del Re, et al., 2013). In other words, the length and frequency of practice does not improve overall health as much as how mindfulness is practiced.

What are some ways to know you are engaging in quality practice of mindfulness?
1) Mindfulness is not about “zoning out” or falling asleep. Mindfulness is being aware.
2) Mindfulness does not avoid certain thoughts, emotions, or sensations.
3) Mindfulness isn't an attempt to feel only pleasant emotions or experiences but to be fully open to all experiences.
4) Mindfulness is returning focus to the present-moment experience, whatever it may be, pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
5) Mindfulness is allowing yourself to return your attention to difficult experiences with a sense that it is “okay” to experience the emotion or sensation.
6) Mindfulness is a focus on the pure experience of the present moment without distracting thoughts.
7) Mindfulness does not try to push away thoughts or feelings but allows them to “be” while gently refocusing back to the present moment.

The practice of mindfulness is simply taking a moment here and there throughout your day and experiencing that moment fully for what it is without judgment, evaluation, or demands.

Del Re, A.C., Flückiger, C., Goldberg, S.B and Hoyt, W.T. (2013) Monitoring mindfulness practice quality: An important consideration in mindfulness practice. Psychotherapy Research, 23, 54-66, DOI:10.1080/10503307.2012.729275.



September 11, 2014

Cognitive Diary Training Example: RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHERS' FEELINGS

EVENT: Upset with a friend

EMOTIONS: irritation, trepidation, hurt

DISTRESS RATING: 7--Feeling distressed, less in control

THOUGHTS: “My friend didn't ask me to join her when she went out with other friends. I feel hurt. I probably couldn't have gone anyway because I'm busy with the kids, but it would have been nice to be asked. Maybe she doesn't like me as much. I'm probably not very much fun. But I can't tell her what I feel because I don't want to hurt her feelings.”

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE IRRATIONAL THINKING IN THIS EXAMPLE? There are at least 3 irrational beliefs.

HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THE THINKING? What is another way of thinking about the situation that won't cause the feelings of irritation, trepidation, and hurt?

VIEW ANSWER



September 4, 2014

LIVING WITH BLAMING AND GUILTING MOTHER (Part 4)

Question: My partner's mum is staying with us and she's quite PA and I'd love to know better ways of dealing with some of what she does...

She has a lot of esteem wrapped up in having been an amazing mother and homemaker. If I choose to do a home-based task differently from how she would have, she will nitpick and point out the many flaws with doing it that way. She'll also say I did it that way because I "don't really CARE" and "that's a lazy way" to do that. Anything that's done her way is just "the way it SHOULD be done" and "why would anyone NOT do it that way!" Despite this she claims she doesn't get ANYTHING done her way although every room in the house is layed out how she wanted and most home things are done her way. When she returns from holidays she spends the next week pointing out things I've missed or supposedly done wrong: "I see it was too hot to mow the lawn!" (I'd mowed three days earlier). "I see no one could be BOTHERED to buy a new salt shaker! You guys!" Shakes her head. Salt shaker is still 3/4's full.

VIEW ANSWER



September 3, 2014

LIVING WITH BLAMING AND GUILTING MOTHER (Part 3)

I will examine and discuss the previous question in parts.

Question: My partner's mum is staying with us and she's quite PA and I'd love to know better ways of dealing with some of what she does...

Partner's mum recites lists of what she does for us to her other children. She makes it sound as if we want her running after us and she's totally put upon. We'd rather tidy after ourselves but can't stop her doing this stuff:
Partner (working from home in personal office): "I don't like you coming in here every hour or so to see if I've got any cups. I'll take this cup once I've finished what I'm working on."
Mum: "I'll just take it."
Partner: "I don't want you to. It's distracting and I feel bad like you're slaving after me."
Mum: "I suppose you WANT the house to turn into a sty. You don't mind the house being DISGUSTING."

VIEW ANSWER



September 1, 2014

LIVING WITH BLAMING AND GUILTING MOTHER (Part 2)

Question: My partner's mum is staying with us and she's quite PA and I'd love to know better ways of dealing with some of what she does...

Partner's mum is upset dishwasher wasn't run overnight. She complains to my partner loudly enough that I can hear: "I know she doesn't CARE about keeping the house tidy but how could anyone NOT run the dishwasher? Why on earth WOULDN'T you?"
Partner: "That's a little unfair when you make these general statements. I know she cares and she must have had a reason."
Mum: "Why on earth wouldn't you! It's just common sense!"
(In fact I hadn't run it because she'd often complained about running it when it wasn't totally full and had even unpacked the top row to demonstrate that you could jam one more glass inside. This time the dishwasher had five or six spaces.)
Partner: "I would like you to think about maybe not making general statements. It upsets people."
Mum: "I'm not allowed to think anything! I've just got to shut up and keep my thoughts to myself. You want me gone. You make it totally clear you HATE having me here!"
Partner: "We like you here. I just want you to know people feel hurt if..."
Mum: "I'm not ALLOWED to say anything!!" Slams door, sulks in room. We leave her to it. Returns two hours later to scream at partner that he's a hateful (expletive)! Slams sitting room door. More sulking.

VIEW ANSWER



August 31, 2014

LIVING WITH BLAMING AND GUILTING MOTHER (Part 1)

Question: My partner's mum is staying with us and she's quite PA and I'd love to know better ways of dealing with some of what she does...

A) She blamed my partner for not telling me her plans had changed (in the last thirty minutes) and that she did want me to include her for dinner after all. But she didn't tell him she now wanted to eat but only that she was leaving later. She didn't tell me (the person cooking) anything. We offered to split what we had but she made a fuss whilst making a sandwich and saying "I suppose you don't want to share!" Sporadically through the next hour she'd sigh and say to herself "it wouldn't have taken you both MUCH effort to pad out the meal" and "you've got to start passing messages."

B) Partner's mum is upset dishwasher wasn't run overnight. She complains to my partner loudly enough that I can hear: "I know she doesn't CARE about keeping the house tidy but how could anyone NOT run the dishwasher? Why on earth WOULDN'T you?"
Partner: "That's a little unfair when you make these general statements. I know she cares and she must have had a reason."
Mum: "Why on earth wouldn't you! It's just common sense!"
(In fact I hadn't run it because she'd often complained about running it when it wasn't totally full and had even unpacked the top row to demonstrate that you could jam one more glass inside. This time the dishwasher had five or six spaces.)
Partner: "I would like you to think about maybe not making general statements. It upsets people."
Mum: "I'm not allowed to think anything! I've just got to shut up and keep my thoughts to myself. You want me gone. You make it totally clear you HATE having me here!"
Partner: "We like you here. I just want you to know people feel hurt if..."
Mum: "I'm not ALLOWED to say anything!!" Slams door, sulks in room. We leave her to it. Returns two hours later to scream at partner that he's a hateful (expletive)! Slams sitting room door. More sulking.

C) Partner's mum recites lists of what she does for us to her other children. She makes it sound as if we want her running after us and she's totally put upon. We'd rather tidy after ourselves but can't stop her doing this stuff:
Partner (working from home in personal office): "I don't like you coming in here every hour or so to see if I've got any cups. I'll take this cup once I've finished what I'm working on."
Mum: "I'll just take it."
Partner: "I don't want you to. It's distracting and I feel bad like you're slaving after me."
Mum: "I suppose you WANT the house to turn into a sty. You don't mind the house being DISGUSTING."

D) She has a lot of esteem wrapped up in having been an amazing mother and homemaker. If I choose to do a home-based task differently from how she would have, she will nitpick and point out the many flaws with doing it that way. She'll also say I did it that way because I "don't really CARE" and "that's a lazy way" to do that. Anything that's done her way is just "the way it SHOULD be done" and "why would anyone NOT do it that way!" Despite this she claims she doesn't get ANYTHING done her way although every room in the house is layed out how she wanted and most home things are done her way. When she returns from holidays she spends the next week pointing out things I've missed or supposedly done wrong: "I see it was too hot to mow the lawn!" (I'd mowed three days earlier). "I see no one could be BOTHERED to buy a new salt shaker! You guys!" Shakes her head. Salt shaker is still 3/4's full.

VIEW ANSWER



Previous       

Excellence vs Perfection Some people may be curious as to why this website is dedicated to the "pursuit of excellence" when I am constantly warning about the dangers of perfectionism.  To address this question we must differentiate between the pursuit of excellence and the need to be perfect.  These concepts are not only different but can be considered antagonistic to one another. In fact these concepts are so opposed to one another that  excellence can best be attained by giving up the demands of perfection.

What is Perfectionism?  Perfectionism is the individual's belief that he or she must be perfect to be acceptable. Perfectionism is black and white with no gray area. Anything other than perfect is failure. Perfectionism is an attitude, not necessarily a behavior. In other words, two people can engage in the same behavior such as trying to win an Olympic gold medal but one can be pursuing excellence and the other is demanding perfection. The difference lies in the thought process about the goal or behavior, not in the goal or behavior itself.  READ MORE...



Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience? Listening to the weather forecast one frigid day, I realized how much we are influenced by the catastrophic thinking of the media.  The weatherman reported, "The weather has brought more misery to the St. Louis area."  Certainly, the weather was causing problems that day.  An ice storm caused car doors and locks to be frozen so that people had a great deal of trouble getting into their cars.  However, I thought, unless someone was in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone and they were unable to open their car door because of the ice, this was not "misery."  Instead, I would call it an "inconvenience."  Most of us walked out to our cars to find that we couldn't open the door, went back inside a warm house or office, and found some solution to our problem.  READ MORE...



Happiness is an Attitude For many years when my husband and I were first together I would ask him "When are things going to get better?"  We were dealing with the usual stressors that couples face: not enough time, not enough money, and the inevitable random events such as family conflict, deaths of loved ones, illnesses and injuries.  In addition, for most of our early years together I was in school and struggling with the balancing of demands of advanced education, part-time work, and a family. 
But I had the belief that we were working towards this perfect life that one day would emerge shining a rainbow of happiness forever over us. My husband, inclined more toward the practical, just answered my question of "When are things going to get better?," with "Another six months."  That answer typically pacified me for awhile because I thought I could handle any amount of stress for six months.  However, a point would occur when I once again I asked my husband "When are things going to get better?"  Once again, he would answer "Another six months."  This scenario occurred fairly routinely for many years.

However, fortunately during this time I had experiences that began to teach me about my expectations of life.  In particular, when I was completing my internship at the Veterans Administration Medical Center I had the opportunity to work on the spinal cord injury unit.  That experience forever changed my thinking.  In particular, I was struck by the differences in attitude among the patients.  READ MORE...


Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics Not a day goes by when I don't throw down the morning newspaper complaining about the use of statistics in an article.  In our world the media liberally sprinkles statistics throughout articles and television programs to support a point of view.  The problem, however, is that statistics are frequently misleading if not outright inaccurate.  Without a clear understanding of the nature of statistics and the definitions of statistical terms, the public believe the statistic-supported statements as if they are fact.  In addition, without understanding the agenda of the journalist or analyst using the statistics, the public accepts these "facts" uncritically.  READ MORE...






What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage Frequently, I am asked how to handle irrational jealous feelings.  Usually, the individual recognizes that her feelings are unreasonable with no valid evidence but feels incapable of controlling the jealousy.  In addition, the person usually recognizes the destructive nature of indulging in the feelings and the resulting behavior.  Such behavior typically involves excessive questioning of her spouse, suspiciousness, and accusations.  Many spouses become extremely frustrated with this behavior because they have no way of proving their faithfulness.  This leads to an escalating cycle of anger which is used as further evidence by the jealous spouse that her suspicions are correct.The jealous spouse often desperately wants to stop the behavior but finds that he can't control the thoughts which makes him feel miserable.  He believes that if he can just prove his suspicions one way or another, he will feel better.  The unfortunate fallacy in this thinking, is that trust can never be proven; it can only be disproved.  The definition of trust is the belief that something is true.  Therefore, without evidence to the contrary, if we want a satisfying relationship, we have to choose to trust the person we love.  READ MORE...



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Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight"I don't have any willpower."

"I'm weak."

"I'm lazy."

"I can't do it."

Do these statements sound familiar? Too often, our self-statements about weight management interfere with our efforts and lead to failure. By changing how we think about developing a healthy weight we are able to change the behaviors that can lead to success.

Not long ago I conducted a little experiment with my cardio-kickboxing class. After an intense class I told them to get the heaviest weights they could curl 8-10 times. I spent a minute telling them to focus on feeling tired, that they had just worked out hard and they couldn't do anymore. Then, they were to curl the weights to exhaustion. Once they finished, I spent another minute telling them to focus on having energy, feeling good, feeling refreshed, and knowing they could do more. Once again, they lifted the weights to exhaustion. The results were that out of nine people, only one did fewer lifts the second time! And typically, when someone lifts weights to exhaustion they should not be able to lift as much the second time when it is only a minute later. Although this was not a controlled scientific experiment, it was a demonstration to my class to show how powerful our thinking can be. What this exercise showed was how positive thinking overcame the natural exhaustion of the body and created a self-fulfilling prophecy of lifting more weight because the participants believed that they could. READ MORE...