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Sport Psych

Martial Arts


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?


Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

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

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Meadow Relaxation

Rainy Autumn Morning

Energizing Audios

Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

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

Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank

The Mindful Attitude: Understanding Mindfulness and the Steps to Developing Emotional Tolerance

Crazy-makers and Mean People: Handling Passive-Aggressive People

Stop Panic and Anxiety: 50 Tools

The Cognitive Diary Method to Changing Your Life

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions


20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

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

What to Do 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


Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

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


by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist


October 6, 2015

Cognitive Diary Training Example: Husband's Unreasonable Expectations of ADD Wife

EVENT: Husband doesn't understand my ADD and gets angry.

EMOTIONS: frustration, agitation, exasperation

DISTRESS RATING: 6--Feeling bad

THOUGHTS: "My husband knows that I suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD} which means sometimes I'm not really in the moment when I am doing something. The way he pushes my buttons is to put something somewhere and leave it there knowing that I am working or cleaning in that particular area of the house and he does not say "I need you not to move or touch this thing right here." Then he becomes loud and aggressive when I move it and do not realize where I moved it to.”

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 frustration, agitation, and exasperation?


October 4, 2015

Passive-Aggressive Example: Husband's Unreasonable Expectations of ADD Wife

Question: My husband knows that I suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD} which means sometimes I'm not really in the moment when I am doing something. The way he pushes my buttons is to put something somewhere and leave it there knowing that I am working on cleaning in that particular area of the house and he does not say "I need you not to move or touch this thing right here." Then he becomes loud and aggressive when I move it and do not realize where I moved it to.


October 3, 2015

Mindfulness Training Shows Promise for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

A number of studies show that mindful techniques can help reduce the problems associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Research is still in the early stages and more is necessary to draw strong conclusions. However, this early research is promising in showing that mindfulness training can improve attention and behavioral control among those with ADHD.

A study that examined mindfulness training for adults with ADHD showed not only improved ADHD symptoms but also a comparison with medication indicated that mindfulness training can be just as effective as medication for controlling the symptoms. Read more...

October 2, 2015

Forgiveness and the Process of Healing

spiral staircase Excerpt: Often people think of healing, if shown on a graph, as a straight line rising upward showing progress. Although they recognize healing has its ups and downs, they still expect movement to average out to a straight line showing improvement. Thinking of progress this way, if they return to a familiar issue they believe they have already dealt with, they think of it as backsliding and feel like they are starting over.

However, I like the concept of “recursion” which I think describes more accurately what people experience when they are healing. The word “recursion” comes from computer science and refers to a method of programming where the ultimate solution to a problem depends upon having solved previous aspects of that problem. To best explain the recursive process, think of a spiral staircase. What you see, instead of a straight line, is a line that proceeds in a circular fashion but rising from level to level. When you walk to a higher level on a spiral staircase and look at the view it is the same as what you saw at the same point on the lower level but your perspective has changed. You now see it in a different way from the higher viewpoint.

Many times my clients will say “I thought I resolved this issue. Why am I dealing with it again?” If you think of progress as a spiral, you can see that it is rising from level to level. However, as you proceed through each level you come back again and again to the same point—the same issue. But you're returning to that issue at a higher level with a different perspective. Read more...

September 24, 2015

Think Multi-tasking Makes You More Efficient? Think Again!

Do you often do more than one thing at a time to get more done?

Do you believe that multi-tasking makes you more successful?

Does your work require multi-tasking to make employees more productive?

Guess what—multi-tasking is a myth. I'm writing an article to explain this in more detail. However, I just came across an interesting research study I thought I would share about multi-tasking with everyday entertainment. Read more...

September 22, 2015

Free Educational Audio! Distrust of Others and Learning to Discriminate

Those who have been severely hurt or traumatized by others often have problems with trust. They may distrust everyone or trust someone too much. This audio discusses the concept of trust and to learn to discriminate. In other words, learning how much you can trust someone and to what degree you can trust them. In this way, you can examine others motives and behaviors more realistically and decide whether they are someone who you want in your life.

This audio, in combination with other audios and resources on this site can help you with problems of distrust. However, as with all the resources, it is best to review the transcript with a mental health professional to determine if it is appropriate for your situation.


September 20, 2015

Women and the Decline of Violence (Part 3)

girlfriends In his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, Dr. Steven Pinker observes from the historical and statistical evidence that violence declines with the “feminization” of society. In other words, as women develop greater influence in a society and are not relegated to subservient or invisible roles, violence declines.

Women have often been thought to be a major civilizing force of society. Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 1800s stated “I have thought a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.” The impact of women upon the amount of violence in a culture makes sense given the greater emotional empathy that women experience. “Emotional empathy” is the ability to feel intensely others' experiences as opposed to “empathy” which is the ability to understand others' experiences. It is the difference between “I feel your pain” and joining in their tears versus “I understand you are hurting.” Read more...

September 19, 2015

165,000 Health Apps and Excel At Life's Apps are Selected in the Top!

IMS Health has chosen at least six of Excel At Life's apps to be included in its AppScripts program for healthcare professionals. IMS Health evaluated over 100,000 health apps: “Each app is assessed using our proprietary IMS Health App Score, which ranks apps based on functionality, peer and patient reviews, certifications, and their potential to improve outcomes and lower the cost of care.” AppScripts is a program that allows healthcare professionals to prescribe apps to patients, send the apps directly to their patients' device, and monitor their usage over time.

Excel At Life's Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help is listed in the top 5 of the Android health apps with a score of 91 (out of 100). Three of Excel At Life's apps are the top three in the depression category: Depression CBT Self-Help Guide and Happy Habits: Choose Happiness in addition to the Cognitive Diary app.

September 16, 2015

Are We Evolving? Thoughts on Violence (part 2)

As I read Pinker's book (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined) it occurred to me that the evidence he provides shows how human nature is changing for the better. Particularly, it shows the development of a collective conscience. What I mean by this is that as humans we develop individually and collectively. We each have an individual conscience that is based upon our experiences and beliefs. However, society can also have a conscience which is what we impart to the people of that society either through explicit education or in implicit ways such as how we treat one another. For instance, at one time, public hangings were entertainment—families would pack a picnic lunch and go to town to watch the hanging. Now, we find that reprehensible by today's standards (although we may not be above watching people degrade one another on reality TV). Read more...

September 15, 2015

Violence is Declining

gun Most people find it difficult to believe we are living in the most peaceable time in human history. We tend to be nostalgic for the past believing we were safer, times were simpler, and we were happier: “In the good ole' days...”

Why do we have the impression that our world is becoming more violent? Because media has mushroomed. At one time the U.S. only had three television networks and the news was focused on providing facts. However, now with the proliferation of media, to stay in business the media has to get our attention. And how do they do that? By playing on our emotions. Sensationalizing. Fear grabs our attention. The media is like vultures, circling, circling, above the dead. Almost relishing the sordid narratives they spin, sort of like the neighborhood gossip seeking attention by delightedly describing the tales of woe of her neighbors: “Did you hear about the Smiths?! Well, let me tell you...” Read more...

September 11, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 20. Re-write Your Life Script.

writing If you have been working through these steps, some time has passed since you wrote your first life script. It takes time to practice each of these steps until they occur more automatically so it could be six months or more since you wrote it. But if you have been practicing the steps consistently over a period of time, your life script should have changed. It is time to re-write your life script.

If you have not been consistently working on these steps for at least six months, stop here! True change is not simple and the mistake that most people make is wanting quick change. Someone who loses 20 pounds over six months is more likely to keep it off than someone who loses 20 pounds in six weeks. Take the slow road and you are more likely to be successful at permanent change.

Re-writing your life script can consolidate the changes you have made and continue to reinforce your self-esteem overtime. In addition, it can help you determine whether you need to address any of the steps further. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

September 10, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 19. Redefine Rejection.

person Many people with low self-esteem engage in “impression management” which is the attempt to influence how others perceive them. Instead of being genuinely who they are, they act in a way to get approval from others: agreeing with others when they have a different opinion, dressing or acting in certain ways to conform with others, trying not to be noticed in a negative way. Interestingly, even people who appear to not care about approval because they are acting in ways that might give rise to disapproval, if you examine their primary group, their behavior may actually be approval-seeking. I think a good example of this is terrorists or people who belong to violent extremist groups—they are still seeking approval from within their group even though they may cause harm to others. However, such a behavioral contrast occurs in less dire ways: teenagers who seek approval from a peer group while rebelling against parents or people who persecute or mistreat those with different beliefs.

Learning to redefine rejection allows you to act according to your personal beliefs and desires rather than acting based upon the approval of others. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

September 6, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 18. Act with Confidence.

Many people view confidence from the wrong direction. They believe “When I have self-esteem, I will act with confidence.” Yet, confidence is a behavior more than a feeling. And behaviors can be produced even when you don't experience the emotion. For instance, have you ever been in an argument with someone, you're feeling intense anger, you receive a phone call, and with a smile and brightness in your voice, you answer, “Hi! It's great to hear from you!” This is a common example of how we can compartmentalize emotions and almost instantaneously switch our behaviors—in this instance, tone of voice, facial expression, word choice. In fact, I would bet that if you pay attention in such an instance, you would even notice a relaxation of the angry tension you were experiencing.

The axiom often used by recovering alcoholics in AA, “Fake it til you make it,” is based on a concept proposed by psychologist George Kelly in the 1950s (The Psychology of Personal Constructs) and incorporated into “fixed-role therapy.” Kelly believed that we act based upon the roles that we have constructed for ourselves from past experiences. However, we can construct new roles and concepts of ourselves and base our behaviors upon those new roles. For instance, he described a man acting based upon a written description of the person he would like to be. By doing so, his belief about his ability became “I CAN change” because “I HAVE changed.” By acting differently, he was able to prove that he has the ability to be different. Therefore, this therapy circumvents one of the common core beliefs that prevents change: “But that's the way I am!” Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

September 5, 2015

New Free Audio Download! 5 Methods to Managing Anger

anger This audio is for people who have trouble managing their anger and find it affecting their relationships personally, at work, and in their community. The primary focus for managing anger is about taking personal responsibility rather than blaming others for the anger. Therefore, the focus is about taking control of your anger to change yourself and your reactions rather than expecting others to change. The audio teaches ways to managing unreasonable anger but the methods provided require effort over time to truly make a difference in your life. The transcript is provided below for your convenience.


September 2, 2015

New Free Audio Download! Hot Spring Relaxation

Hot SpringsThis audio relaxation exercise focuses on teaching the three main methods of relaxation which include slow, relaxed breathing, muscle relaxation, and guided imagery.  The imagery describes sitting in a hot spring in the wintertime, feeling the contrast of the cold air with the hot water, and the soothing flow of water against your body. At the end of the audio it provides an opportunity for creating healthy suggestions for yourself as you relax by the fire next to the hot spring.


September 1, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 17. Mentally Rehearse.

Once you have developed specific goals through visualizing success and how to achieve it, the next step is to rehearse those goals. This is the step that many people miss. They believe that just having a goal and a plan is good enough. But often, it is not.

For example, have you ever known someone who has good intentions but no follow through? Let's say they are always late for work and although they intend to get up earlier and get to work on time they are unable to do so. For many people this is a problem of lack of mental rehearsal. In other words, they tell themselves the night before, “I'm going to get to work on time” and set the alarm earlier. But that's where it stops. Achieving the goal of getting to work on time is more likely if they practice in their mind getting up to the alarm and planning their time. People who are on time aren't just magically punctual. Instead, they have considered the tasks they need to accomplish, the time it takes, and when to start each task: “These are the things I need to do in the morning: I need to shower by X time and eat breakfast by X time and return emails by X time and leave the house by X time.” It's also about being realistic. If the person knows that it takes a half hour to awaken to the alarm, then saying "I will jump out of bed when the alarm rings" is not realistic but setting the alarm a half hour earlier might be more effective. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

August 31, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 16. Visualize Success.

Saying “visualize success” sounds somewhat cliché given all the motivational gurus who have hijacked this term to mean “if you believe it, and can see it, you will be successful.” However, success is more complex than that and cognitive therapy is about being realistic, not about being delusively positive.

That being said, those with low self-esteem are often visualizing all the negative aspects of themselves. They see what may go wrong rather than seeing success. Change the way you view yourself and the outcome of your efforts. Learn to see yourself succeeding at what you try. However, to visualize success requires more than positive thinking. Instead, it is more similar to goal-setting and identifying the steps to achieve the goal. When you take on a task, instead of wasting time thinking about how you will fail, think about the steps it will take to succeed. If it takes more than one or two steps, focus on only the first ones and don't worry about whether you can achieve the rest until you get there. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

August 26, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 15. Accept Failure.

failure success Many people with low self-esteem view failure as catastrophic. As such, they feel the need to avoid failure at all costs. Unfortunately, attempts to avoid failure often prevent success because avoiding failure frequently means not attempting something that is challenging. Usually, this catastrophic view of failure is due to several reasons: over-identifying failure, globalizing failure and personalizing failure.

1) Over-identifying failure.
Those with a fear of failure tend to think in terms of failure. They divide their world up into categories of success and failure. They feel good when they succeed and bad when they fail. As a result, their self-esteem is based on an external factor—the outcome of their actions. Since outcomes aren't always completely controllable, basing the self-concept on the outcome causes the self-esteem to fluctuate depending upon the circumstances. A stable self-esteem tends to influence outcome rather than outcome influencing the self-esteem. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

August 20, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 14. Internalize Positive Responses.

Internalizing the positive responses you get from others is quite possibly the most important of these twenty steps to better self-esteem. To internalize means to make attitudes, opinions, or behaviors part of how you automatically think of yourself. If you are asked to describe yourself, your description is based upon this internal perspective. Unfortunately, for many people with low self-esteem, they have internalized negative attitudes and opinions about themselves. These need to be changed to a more positive internal representation. If you have been following the previous steps, you have already begun this process. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

August 19, 2015

New Audios! Panic While Driving Education and Assistance

Frequently, people who have panic attacks develop a fear of having a panic attack while driving a car. They are afraid they will lose control and hurt themselves or others. For most people this fear is based upon inaccurate assumptions about panic attacks and how an attack can affect driving. Although there are a few people who may have medical conditions that can be triggered by a panic attack, most people who have panic attacks can safely drive or make the decision to determine the need to stop driving while calming themselves. If you have been checked out physically by your physician and cleared for driving, these audios can help explain why you can safely drive with a panic attack. They are meant to be used for therapeutic driving exposures when challenging the avoidance of driving.


August 18, 2015 The Best Eating Disorder iPhone and Android Apps of 2015--Healthline

Healthline's Top Eating Disorder Apps of 2015

One of Excel At Life's apps have been selected among the 13 best apps of 2015 for eating disorders:

Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help: "Destructive thoughts are one of the most damaging aspects of an eating disorder. The negative opinions you have about yourself, and the self-hate you direct towards your body can be damaging and long-lasting. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a powerful tool that can help change your thought patterns and improve your mental state.

Many mental health professionals request that patients keep an ongoing journal to record their feelings, as well as the events that may have affected their mood. This app makes it easier to do than toting around a pencil and paper all day.
" (Healthline)

August 14, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 13. Be Direct.

Indirect/direct As previously mentioned in other steps many people who lack self-esteem are afraid of being rejected. Due to this fear they make their comments and their requests less direct. In which case people are less likely to be responsive. As such, being indirect can become a vicious cycle. People don't understand or hear your requests, comments, or opinions and are not responsive to you. As a result, you may feel rejected and become even more withdrawn and less direct.

Sure, being direct can lead to more confrontation or clear rejection of your request or ideas, but at least you know where you stand and it is not based upon irrational speculation. Also, consider that people are not always be in agreement--it is not a rejection of you just because someone disagrees or refuses a request. Recognize it is okay because it is not necessarily about you. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

August 12, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 12. Focus on Other People.

Focus on other people (list everything you notice in this picture) Often, people with low self-esteem are focused on themselves. They are worried about what others might think of them. They are evaluating themselves based upon others' reactions to them. They are apologizing for themselves when they haven't done anything wrong. They may even be critical of others for not showing interest or concern about them. All of these concerns, however, mean that they are inside of their head and focused on themselves. And usually, most of this self-focus is negative.

Have you ever paid attention to a person who is good at social interaction? (If not, that would be a great way to start getting outside of your own head.) I don't mean a person who is just talkative because that is not always good social interaction. I am referring to a person who is good at engaging others. Such people are focused on the other person. They ask questions. They listen. They show interest. When they do talk about themselves it is in a way to further the conversation. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

August 10, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 11. Don't Evaluate Yourself Based on Others.

A common problem for people with low self-esteem is they evaluate themselves based upon how others react to them. Unfortunately, for several reasons this can frequently lead to a worsening of self-esteem or a negative self-concept:

1. You don't know what others are thinking.
You are only observing their behavior which may or may not be a reaction to you. Recognize a lack of response can mean different things. Sometimes people are thinking or focused on something else. Sometimes they don't realize you are talking to them. Don't personalize a lack of response. In addition, when you get a negative response you could be inaccurate in your perception because you are interpreting what they are thinking based upon the behavior you see. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

August 7, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 10. Say "Hello"

Hello in different languages Acting confident leads to feeling confident. One reason for this is other people more readily respond which increases positive interactions. Many people with low self-esteem wait for others to make the first overture. As discussed in the previous step, they don't want to risk rejection. However, other people don't always approach first for a variety of reasons that has nothing to do with you. Some of them may have low self-esteem as well or social anxiety. Some of them may have poor social skills. Some of them may be distracted and not paying attention to what's around them. Therefore, waiting for others often leads to nothing.

Instead, make it a habit to say “hello” to people. Frequently, when people with low self-esteem try this step, they report that others were non-responsive. Usually the lack of response is because the other person didn't hear them or know they were being addressed. So be sure to speak up. Don't just mumble “hi.” If you know their name, use the name. Make sure you are heard: “Hello, Bob. How are you today?” Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

August 5, 2015

New Audio! Autogenic Relaxation Training

This audio teaches autogenic relaxation which is a focus on the pleasant sensations of warmth and heaviness coming into your body. Practicing this method will help you become more skilled at being aware of your body, where you feel tension, and replacing the tension with pleasant warmth and soothing heaviness. About 9 minutes.

When doing any mindful or relaxation exercise, it is important to very gently bring your focus back to your experience if distracting thoughts occur. Do not try to get rid of the thoughts because that interferes with the relaxation process. Instead, just gently refocus back to the exercise.

Once you have learned this technique, you can use it to help whenever you feel stressed. You won't need to listen to the entire audio but will be able to focus on the sensations of your body, being aware of the tension, and releasing the tension by replacing with the relaxing sensations of warmth and heaviness.


August 4, 2015

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

Step 9. Make eye contact and smile.

Many people with low self-esteem try not to make eye contact and smile at others they pass in the hall at work or at the grocery store or out for a walk. One of the reasons people avoid eye contact is fear of rejection. Making eye contact, and especially smiling, feels vulnerable because the other person can respond with negative non-verbals or ignore you. For people with low self-esteem such a reaction can feel like rejection.

However, similar to the previous step of holding your head up, making eye contact is a critical part of human interaction. It expresses self-confidence and interest in others. It allows other people to connect with you and to approach you. Certainly, sometimes we avoid eye contact deliberately so as not to be approached by strangers. But it is not beneficial to always avoid eye contact and ignore others especially those you see on a regular basis such as at work or school or in the neighborhood. Read more...

Index to 20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

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...

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...

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