Negative social comparisons: How they affect your mood negatively and how to stop making them

In this article, I discuss how comparing yourself negatively to others is an example of distorted thinking which you can address with skills from cognitive behavioural therapy. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often work with clients who engage in negative social comparisons. This involves having thoughts which focus on not doing well compared with another person, a group of people, or people in general. Negative social comparisons can focus on beliefs regarding coming up short relative to others in areas such as abilities, personal characteristics and performance at work or school, finances, sports and relationships...[more]

2018-12-30T21:54:31-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

How to be consistent at setting boundaries: Focus on the internal results

In this article, I discuss how focusing on the boundary-setting benefits to your self-esteem and mood can help you to be consistent at this activity. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients who have challenges in setting boundaries in social interactions and relationships. The most common difficulties involve managing the stress involved in letting others know when they have crossed a boundary and the fact that the stress involved does not appear to be worth enduring based on the limited benefits. That is, clients commonly report that on most occasions the party toward whom they have set boundaries does not respond positively to their boundary-setting attempts. The stress involved in setting boundaries and the lack of positive results which appear to occur when doing so leads many people to give up on setting boundaries...[more]

2018-12-16T22:16:24-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

The importance of engaging in mastery activities at work and in your leisure time

In this article, I discuss why it is important to schedule activities which are good for your self-esteem. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients with issues involving low self-esteem or low self-confidence. One of my go-to strategies to help these clients is to have them incorporate mastery activities into their lives. Mastery activities are those in which a person accomplishes something and uses their talents and skills...lmore]

2018-11-04T21:47:04-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Self-Esteem|

Video: Strategies for Improving Self-Esteem

In this episode of Dr. Pat's video tips, I discuss two categories of strategies to help you improve your self-esteem: 1. Cognitive strategies which help you to think more positively about yourself. 2. Behavioural strategies in which you engage in activities which help you to feel good about yourself.

2018-08-20T13:05:27-06:00By |Categories: Self-Esteem, Video|

A common misconception about cognitive behavioural therapy: It’s just about positive thinking

In this article, I discuss the actual focus of cognitive behavioural therapy—on the power of balanced thinking. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often encounter people who have misconceptions about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of the most common misconceptions is that CBT is all about just having people think positively in the manner of the baseless positive affirmations made by the Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley. This misconception is typically accompanied by the erroneous notion that CBT requires clients not to think about or deal with genuine negative events in their lives. Not surprisingly, people with these views usually have a negative attitude toward CBT...[more]

2018-07-29T22:41:48-06:00By |Categories: Psychology, Self-Esteem, Stress|

Having and building good self-esteem: Is it a slam dunk or are there downsides?

In this article, I discuss whether there are disadvantages to having and facilitating good self-esteem. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, clients often ask for my help in improving their self-esteem. These are typically people who can clearly benefit from changing the negative view they have of themselves with its deleterious effects on their moods, relationships and performance in various domains including work and school. In turn, when these clients take steps toward developing a more positive view of themselves it typically results in significant improvement in these areas of their lives. So taking steps to foster self-esteem in yourself and others is recommended to the point of being a slam dunk, right?...[more]

2018-05-20T18:56:15-06:00By |Categories: Self-Esteem|

How to respond effectively to criticism: Part 3–What to think

In this article, I discuss thinking skills you can use to take the emotional ‘sting’ out of being criticized. In my previous two articles on how to respond effectively to criticism, I discussed how what to say and when to say it can improve your chances of giving an effective response. In this article, I discuss how what you think when you are criticized can also determine the effectiveness of your response. I will focus on strategies to help you think in a manner which will contribute to an effective response...[more]

2017-12-31T23:57:37-07:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Self-Esteem|

How to respond effectively to criticism: Part 2—When to respond

In this article, I discuss how to choose the best time to respond to criticism. In my last article, I indicated that an effective response to criticism involves three elements: what to say, when to say it and what to think. After doing so, I discussed the first of these elements—what to say. In this article, I will focus on the second of these elements—when to give your response to criticism. As was the case with the ‘what to say’ response element, the ‘when to say it’ element partly depends on whether the criticism you are responding to is constructive or nonconstructive...[more]

2017-12-17T22:15:07-07:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Self-Esteem|

How to respond effectively to criticism: What to say, when to say it and what to think

In this article, I discuss the various components which combine to form an effective response when you are criticized. One of the most challenging tasks we all face is responding to criticism. Like it or not, it is part of living that we are going to get criticized. This can happen at work, in our relationships, and in various activities in which we engage. Some of the criticism may be constructive—delivered in a respectful way—and other criticisms may be nonconstructive—communicated disrespectfully, often with negative labels, insults and even verbal or physical aggression. Whether it is constructive or nonconstructive, criticism can be upsetting emotionally and result in negative effects on your self-esteem and your ability to perform effectively in various life situations.  Fortunately, there are effective ways to respond to criticism which can lessen the negative emotional impact on you and allow you be resilient in the face of it...[more]

2017-12-03T22:26:49-07:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Self-Esteem|

How to make habits out of enjoyable and fulfilling activities: Take the path of least resistance.

In this article, I discuss how you can use the concept of activation energy to make habits of activities which will bring you the most enjoyment and fulfillment. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, one of the challenges my clients often face is making habits out of activities which will bring them the most enjoyment and fulfillment. These activities typically fall into the category of ‘active leisure’ and include examples such as participating in a hobby or interest, socializing, and exercising individually or with a group or team. Although research indicates that active leisure activities bring the most enjoyment and fulfillment, many people have difficulty making habits of such activities even when they schedule them. Instead, they typically will engage in passive leisure activities such as watching television, playing a video game or surfing the internet on their computers or smartphones...[more]

2017-10-22T22:44:37-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Depression, Self-Esteem|
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