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]

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]

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]

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]

Pleasure and mastery: Two kinds of activities are better than one

In this article, I discuss why it is important to include both pleasure and mastery activities in your routine. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I encourage my clients to have two types of activities in their spare-time routines--pleasure and mastery. Pleasure activities are enjoyable and relaxing ones which help you to de-stress and typically do not involve performing or being evaluated. These can be individual pleasure activities like meditation, listening to music, watching a movie or reading a novel. Pleasure activities can also include social interaction such as having coffee with a friend or going to a movie with a group. Mastery activities are those which entail performance of a task which requires use of your skills and talents.,,[more]

Reducing self-injury behaviours: Identify and address the motives

In this article, I discuss ways to reduce non-suicidal self-injury behaviours by identifying and addressing the motives for these behaviours. In my practice as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, among the most challenging issues I encounter is clients engaged in self-injury behaviours such as cutting or burning oneself.  Referred to as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), these behaviours are not engaged in for the purpose of taking one’s life. However, they are often precursors to later suicide attempts and are most commonly displayed by adolescents. To help these clients, my strategy is first to identify the reasons they are engaging in self-injury behaviours...[more]

Habits for good self-esteem: It’s how you behave and what you think

In this article, I discuss habits to help build self-esteem which stem from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). In my continuing series on habits, I now turn to habits to help you have good emotional health. In this article, I discuss habits which help you to have good self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to how well you value yourself. Having good self-esteem is associated with better emotional health and being less prone to emotional health issues. The most notable of these issues is depression, of which low self-esteem is a key symptom. Having good self-esteem is also predictive of better relationships and success in various endeavours including academics and career. Fostering good self-esteem to help you achieve these benefits can be accomplished by incorporating habits into your routine. These habits focus on cognitive and behavioural strategies which have been demonstrated help you to think positively about yourself on a regular basis. In the following sections, I will describe these habits and how to make them part of your self-esteem-building routine...[more]

Strategies for easier and effective boundary-setting

In this article, I discuss ways to make boundary-setting easier and effective. In my last article, I discussed the importance of setting boundaries to achieve long-term positive effects on mood and self-esteem. In this article, I provide strategies on how to make it easier to deal with the ‘short-term pain’ which often accompanies setting boundaries. These strategies will also help to make your boundary-setting effective...[more]

Setting boundaries: Short-term pain, long-term gain

In this article, I discuss why it is beneficial to set boundaries even though it may sometimes be unpleasant to do so. Situations requiring us to set boundaries are those in which we need to send a message to others that they have not treated us properly. Examples include not being given good customer service, not being paid back the money you are owed by someone or any situation in which a friend, family member, relationship partner or anyone else has not treated you with respect. Setting boundaries involves letting the offending party know with your words and/or your actions that it is not acceptable for them to treat you in this manner...[more]

How to change your negative core beliefs

In this article, I discuss how to change thought patterns called negative core beliefs which often play a role in many psychological issues. In my last article, I discussed how to identify negative core beliefs--long-standing negative views people may have about themselves, other people in their lives or the world. These negative views usually originate from people’s difficult experiences and predispose them to think negatively about themselves, other people or the world in the present. They also play a major role in causing and maintaining various psychological issues including depression, the anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and eating disorders. In the following sections, I will discuss how to change negative core beliefs once they have been identified so that their negative influence on current thinking and mood can be reduced...[more]