Anger

Choosing a good hot thought: Situation-specific or general

In this article, I discuss how to choose a good hot thought which you can check and change to feel better in difficult situations. Much of my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist entails helping my clients to change how they feel by changing the way they think, a key process in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). In this process, clients use a tool known as a thought record to track the negative thoughts which come into their minds in everyday difficult situations they encounter. These negative thoughts are known in CBT as ‘hot thoughts’ and are largely responsible for the person experiencing undue distress in response to these situations in the form of emotions like anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt and sadness.  Fortunately, these hot thoughts are typically beliefs which are not completely accurate and, with the help of a thought record, can be changed to more accurate ‘balanced thoughts’ which reduce emotional distress to a more manageable level. An important consideration in deciding which hot thought to work on is whether it is a thought which is specific to the upsetting situation or one which is ‘underneath’ the situation-specific thought and is more general in scope...[more]

Two motivators to change behaviour: Hope for the good and fear of the bad

In this article, I discuss how you can use hope for positive consequences and fear of negative consequences as motivators to help you change unwanted behaviour patterns. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, clients sometimes have the goal of changing unwanted behaviour patterns such as procrastination, losing one’s temper and excessive substance use. One of the best ways to help clients achieve behaviour change in these instances is to help them focus on motivators for the types of change they are seeking. Two types of motivators serve this purpose...[more]

Delay and distract: A tool to help you act reflectively rather than reflexively

In this article, I discuss a technique to manage urges to engage in unhelpful behaviours in a variety of situations. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, many clients seek help with issues in which they ‘act out’ quickly and reflexively in response to urges, leading to negative consequences. The list includes people acting out with verbal or physical aggression in response to anger, acting out with eating issues including binge-eating and purging, as well as acting out through the use of alcohol, drugs and gambling...[more]

To err is human, but is to forgive really divine?

In this article, I discuss what it means to forgive and various factors to consider in deciding whether to forgive someone. Our culture has strong norms encouraging us to forgive those who have wronged us. These norms garner much of their impetus from various well-known statements on the subject. “To err is human, to forgive divine” is one of the most well-known quotations in history...[more]

2016-11-09T12:03:43+00:00 By |Anger, Trauma|0 Comments

Reduce self-injury behaviours by addressing what lies beneath them

In this article, I discuss ways to reduce non-suicidal self-injury behaviours by targeting the factors leading to the behaviours. It may seem puzzling to an observer that someone would regularly choose to harm themselves through behaviours such as cutting, burning or head-banging. In reality, self-injury behaviours often represent ways of coping with various life issues much as many people use drinking, drugs, gambling, sex and various eating disorder behaviours for this purpose...[more]

Practice tolerating uncertainty to improve your moods

In this article, I discuss how moving away from the tendency toward reducing uncertainty can help you feel better in response to negative situations. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I have been influenced by the statements of many prominent people in my field. One such occasion was when I attended a talk given to the public by depression expert Dr. Michael Yapko. Dr. Yapko said that being able to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity is one of the most important skills a person can practice to overcome depression...[more]

Work on yourself to improve your relationships…and vice versa

In this article, I discuss how you can benefit from the bidirectional relationship between individual and relationship well-being. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I encounter both individuals and couples as clients. Individuals typically have the goal of addressing an individual issue to improve their emotional well-being and I teach them skills from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help them in this endeavour. Couples usually have goals to improve their relationship well-being in various ways. To this end, I typically give them skills from Dr. John Gottman’s sound relationship house model to help them improve their relationship friendship and learn skills to discuss issues more constructively...[more]

A myth about cognitive behavioural therapy: It doesn’t focus on emotions

Contrary to what you may infer from its name, emotions play a central role in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). In this article, I will give several examples of how CBT is in many ways ‘all about emotions’. For some time, I’ve considered ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ in certain respects to be an unfortunate name for the form of therapy in which I specialize. The name of a similar form of therapy which preceded CBT--rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)—is one which has certain advantages over the name cognitive behavioural therapy...[more]

Distraction: A double-edged sword

In this article, I discuss how you can manage the bad kind of distraction and make use of the good kind of distraction. Distraction is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Most people think of distraction as an inherently negative Mr. Hyde. That is, distractions often interfere with being able to focus on important tasks such as those at work or at home as well as performing in sports and other areas...[more]

Thought records: Great antidotes to ruminating

In this article, I discuss a tool you can use to feel better by changing your thinking when you’re dwelling on negative thoughts. If you’re like me, you sometimes find yourself ruminating—dwelling on negative thoughts which lead to you to feel upset. For example, you can ruminate on worrisome thoughts leading you to experience intense anxiety such as...[more]