How Therapy Works: The Importance of Skill Building | Psychology Today

Source: How Therapy Works: The Importance of Skill Building | Psychology Today

We can only do well what we know how to do well.

Posted Feb 09, 2021

Imagine yourself a therapist. The client across from you is a young man with a fear of driving. Once in his car, he experiences disorienting panic, which causes him much distress and limits his ability to enjoy his life. Your background assessment has shown that he is not physically handicapped (i.e., blind, deaf) or mentally handicapped (i.e., low intelligence; psychosis). What would you guess is the source of his problem? What questions would you ask him in order to figure it out?

Perhaps you’d start by inquiring about his personality traits. Is he an anxious, neurotic person, lacking in overall confidence? If so, that could help explain things. His fear of driving is but one manifestation for his overall personality style.

Perhaps you’d inquire too about the condition of his car, or the road conditions where he lives. If his car is old and unreliable, or if he lives in a shattered war zone, then that may explain his fear.

IconTrack for Wikimedia Commons
Source: IconTrack for Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps you’d want to inquire about his life history. Did he experience or witness a car accident as a child, thus developing a lifelong aversion? Was he involved in a recent accident, after which the symptoms emerged?

Perhaps you’d inquire too about his relationships with his parents. Perhaps his abusive father was a truck driver, and the client’s fear of driving manifests his unconscious resentment of his father.

All the above are good questions, and may yield important data. But the most important question you’d want to ask first is altogether different, simpler, and potentially more useful: Is he a good driver?

Owing much to the legacy of Sigmund Freud and his followers, therapy in the popular imagination is often viewed as a deep dive into the dark, convoluted mysteries of the unconscious, unearthing clients’ traumatic experiences, tangled relationships histories, and personality quirks.

In the real world, however, clients’ difficulties often relate more to skill deficits than to deep, obscure, or complicated motives. Most meaningful life projects—relationship, work, love, sex, parenting, health, money—require a measure of skill. At the end of the day, we can only do what we know how to do, and we do it only as well as we know how.

Your personality traits, environmental conditions, and past experiences are important, and a big reason why is that they often relate to your skill level. But these are not one and the same and should not be confused. Traits are behavioral tendencies. Skills are behavioral abilities. Environmental conditions and early experiences create (and limit) opportunities for skill development, but they are not sufficient to produce skill. Having a piano at home is not the same thing as knowing how to play the piano.

Still, our traits, circumstances, and early experiences may help us to develop some skills over others. An extraverted person, who grew up in a socially open and safe environment will likely end up with better social skills than an introverted, isolated, timid individual.

Alas, the fact that your personality, circumstances, and early experiences have conspired to deprive you of certain life skills doesn’t render those skills less important; quite the opposite, in fact. Money doesn’t cease to matter because you were born poor. It matters more.

To wit: If I’m an introverted child growing up with timid parents and used to being ignored at school, then my self-assertion skills will remain underdeveloped. Such underdevelopment may underlie my current problems in finding intimacy and advancing at work. The solution is not to rage against my history or try to alter my biological makeup, but to acquire the missing skill.

Skill acquisition is effortful and may often require us to bump up against our temperamental tendencies, our experience, or our environmental conditions. If you’re an inhibited, introverted individual by personality, then you are less inclined to put yourself in situations of social interaction. This may over time lead to deteriorated social skills, and thus higher social anxiety and more social avoidance—a self-perpetuating vicious cycle.

To gain adequate skill, you’ll need to reverse the cycle, accept the discomfort, and move counter to your tendency. This is difficult, but worthwhile, because, as the work of psychologist Gilbert Gottlieb has shown, just as biological temperament may drive behavior, so behavior may drive biology. To evolve teeth, a species has to start biting first. Likewise, over time, skills may evolve into traits (if what you learned how to do becomes what you tend to do), re-shaping character, affecting experience (doing something well feels different than doing it poorly or not at all) and environmental conditions (improved skills lead to improved circumstances: social, financial, occupational etc.).

Once we agree that skills are important for mental health, the question arises: what are the most important mental health skills? A new article in Psychological Science attempts to answer this question. In the piece, authors Christopher Soto of Colby College and colleagues argue that in addition to the effects of personality, experience, intelligence, etc., “success in life is influenced by … social, emotional, and behavioral skills (SEB skills): a person’s capacities to maintain social relationships, regulate emotions, and manage goal- and learning-directed behaviors.” Summarizing a large body of research on such skills, they go on to propose “an integrative model that defines SEB skills as capacities (what someone is capable of doing) rather than personality traits (what someone tends to do).”

Noting that personality traits and skills are often correlated, the authors then organize these life skills by five major domains that parallel the Big Five personality traits, as follows:

Social Engagement skills (linked to the personality trait of extraversion): Capacities used to actively engage with other people, including leadership (asserting one’s views and speak in a group) and conversational skill (initiating and maintaining social interactions)

Cooperation Skills (linked to agreeableness): Capacities used to maintain positive social relationships, including perspective-taking (understanding other people’s thoughts and feelings) and social warmth (evoking positive social responses from other people).

Self Management Skills (linked to conscientiousness): Capacities used to effectively pursue goals and complete tasks, including goal regulation: (setting clear and ambitious goals), and task management (working persistently to complete tasks and achieve goals).

Emotional Resilience Skills (parallel to low Neuroticism): Capacities used to regulate emotions and moods, including stress regulation (regulating stress, anxiety, and fear), and anger management (regulating anger and irritation).

Innovation Skills (openness to experience): Capacities used to engage with novel ideas and experiences, including abstract thinking (engaging with abstract ideas) and artistic skill (creating and appreciating art).

The authors argue that while many SEB skills likely relate to personality traits and measured intelligence, they remain distinct enough to capture unique information.

A focus on skills is also useful because we cannot yet control our genes, early experience, and early environment, and we often have limited ability to control our current circumstances. Our skill level, however, is to a considerable extent under our control. We can get better at stuff, and one place in which to do this is in therapy.

Indeed, much evidence has accumulated in recent decades to show that life skills of the kind discussed by the authors can and do improve with therapy, as clients learn how to regulate emotions, set appropriate goals, manage stressinteract usefully with others, increase empathy, and appreciate abstraction.

Thus, the goal of therapy—and the hard work of it—is often for clients to find which important life skills are underdeveloped, and to develop them adequately.

Often, the way to eliminate your fear of driving is to become a better driver.

Mental Trick to Get Through Any Stressful Situation

peaceful man

Maybe you’ve scored that prized interview you’ve been after for some time, or maybe your CEO chose you to deliver a presentation, or maybe you have a big networking event—whatever the case, you’re obviously excited, but you’re also really nervous.

Here’s where mindfulness comes in. Regardless of if you’re a seasoned meditator or a newbie, you can test out S.T.O.P.—a powerful, yet surprisingly basic strategy that helps you to be focused, alert, relaxed, and at your emotional best when a big moment presents itself in your life.

Simply put, it’s a four-step mental checklist to use anytime you want to add a burst of fresh energy, creativity, or insight to whatever is going on. The whole idea behind it is that by taking a very brief break—even less than one minute—you can determine the very best action to take in the moment.

Let’s walk through it together:

S = Stop

Stop what you are doing: Press the pause button on your thoughts and actions.

T = Take

Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and bring yourself fully into the present moment.

O = Observe

Observe what is going on with your:

What physical sensations are you aware of (touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell)?

What are you feeling right now?

What assumptions are your making about your feelings? What is the story you’re telling yourself about why you are having them?

P = Proceed

Proceed with whatever you were doing, making a conscious, intentional choice to incorporate what you just learned.

Putting it Into Action

Let’s say you have a big interview coming up and you are practicing your answers to questions with a friend.

He asks, “What direct experience do you have working in our industry?” You stress out because you’re changing careers and you don’t have any direct experience. But, instead of panicking and telling your friend the mock interview’s over and you can’t do this, S.T.O.P.


Write the question down, then pause.


Very intentionally take a few deep breaths


Body: You might notice a tightening in your stomach or that your breath gets shallower.

Emotions: Did the question make you feel nervous? Unsure of yourself?

Mind: What are you thinking? Maybe: “I always feel this way when I try something new, and it always seems to turn out OK…” or “Wow, I’ve always talked about changing to a new industry, and here I am actually doing it!”


As you think about your answer, consider what you’ve just observed about yourself, and what you want to do with what you just learned. You might say to yourself: “I’m going to remember when I notice my stomach tightening that I’m excited to be taking steps to change careers.”

So now, instead of panicking, your inner monologue says to you:

“I have a lot of relevant experience I can bring from my previous work, so I’ll be genuinely positive and focus on my excitement and my transferable skills when this question comes up.”

Now, when you get asked this for real, you’ll be able to put your S.T.O.P. lessons to good use and answer without missing a beat. And remember, this doesn’t just apply to interviews, but to any situation that’s causing you anxiety. The more mindful you are of what’s going on in your own body and brain beforehand, the easier it will be to shine when it counts.

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination’ Is Real

Source: ‘Revenge Bedtime Procrastination’ Is Real, According to Psychologists | Glamour

Woman with her phone in bed
Getty Images
It’s late and you’re exhausted. You barely had time to eat dinner and shower after work. Maybe you watched a few episodes of a show, read a chapter of your book, struggled through your skin-care routine. Now you’re in bed, and you know you should sleep. But you keep scrolling—past the point that feels good. Your eyes start to close and you have to be up at 5 a.m. for work, but you’re not ready for rest. Some part of you is unsatisfied.

This activity has a name: bedtime revenge procrastination.

It’s a phrase popularized by millennials and Gen Z in China, which literally translates to “sleepless night revenge,” Sandra, a 24-year-old Mandarin speaker living in Paris, told Glamour. In the U.S., the pandemic has exacerbated everything that was already broken in a culture where work determines access to health care and sense of value. “The combination of a capitalist workday, mixed with work-from-home life and an ever growing attachment to our technology is the perfect storm that contributes to ‘revenge bedtime procrastination,’” says Aliza Shapiro, a clinical social worker and therapist in Manhattan. “Intuitively, we know we need to rest in order to become productive again, so when we lack the resource of relaxation during the day we try to find it in other places and times—even if it’s at the expense of our sleep.”

It’s deeply validating to learn that this habit has a name, and that you are not alone in doing it. The term “bedtime revenge procrastination” has spread on social media, each “heart” and “it me” like a little collective sigh of relief, a loss of shame.

Last June writer Daphne K. Lee introduced it to English-speaking Twitter as “a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.”

Saman Haider, a 20-year-old pre-med psychology student at the University of Iowa, discovered the phrase in January when she found herself awake one night at 3 a.m., and started googling. “I came across this term, and as soon as I read the definition, I was like, ‘This is me,’” she says. It felt so good to name her problem that she made a TikTok video to share the idea, and to see whether other people could relate.

“Fun fact, did you guys know that there’s this thing called revenge bedtime procrastination,” she asks in a video that has now been viewed 13.6 million times. “Where people will refuse to sleep because they don’t have much control over their daytime life, so they will sleep very late at night, even if they’re super tired, because they just don’t want that free time to end at night, and they don’t want tomorrow to start?”

Haider’s video, bleakly relatable with its stark background and drained Starbucks cup, garnered millions of likes and tens of thousands of comments. “Okay, so it has a name” and “I do this” are common variants. “I feel personally attacked,” reads one comment liked more than 50,000 times.

Why do we do this?

Chel’sea Ryan, a clinical social worker and therapist at the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS in Phoenix, says she has both personal and professional experience with this phenomenon. After a day of office work and an evening of caring for her kids, she would lose sleep in favor of unwinding, reasoning, “This is my only time to breathe, be human, be a woman.” But her late-night habit created an anxiety spiral that eventually resulted in panic attacks. She’s seen it in her patients too. “A lot of clients have kids, or multiple jobs, or home life isn’t that great,” she says. “So they’re picking and choosing times when they can really cater to themselves, and usually that’s at night.”

If we’re really going to cater to ourselves, why not do a few minutes of yoga, or drink tea, as we’ve been told to do 5,000 times by freakishly cheerful wellness influencers? Why fall face-first into our phones? “For many of us, when we finally put away all of our technology at the end of the night, it is the first time that we are left alone with our thoughts and feelings without any distractions,” says Shapiro. “If we’re afraid of what we may find, or—perhaps more commonly—know that we will be met with uncomfortable, complicated, or heavy thoughts or feelings, we are going to unconsciously try to avoid them. Engaging in the late-night scroll may be an attempt to either push off the flood of emotion that may hit us when we close our eyes, or to exhaust ourselves to the point that we instantly fall asleep and don’t have to think at all.”

Dark! Accurate! And, ultimately, Shapiro says, not going to work. “We’re trying to protect ourselves, but we forget that avoidance actually makes the emotions stronger and we enter into a cycle of late-night anxiety,” she says.

Why is this so much worse right now?

“Demands on our time have gotten higher during the work-from-home period of time, not lower,” Ashley Whillans, Ph.D., a researcher and behavioral scientist at Harvard Business School, tells Glamour. She’s been studying how people are using their time during the pandemic in five countries, including America—her group’s research found that women, especially mothers, are spending more time on childcare and household chores than fathers do. (Surprise, surprise.)

They also found that young women, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, spent less time on leisure than their male counterparts. This may be because we have more demands on our time—maybe we’re parents, managing Zoom school, or scrambling to pay the bills with a second job, or doing the seemingly endless work of a job search, or simply allowing a 9-to-5 to balloon into an 8-to-6. “Our workdays last longer because there’s no clear separation of when we should stop,” Whillans says. This is not healthy. “Emotional detachment from work is hugely important for job satisfaction!” she says. “But the end-of-our-workday ritual has gone missing in the virtual environment.”

And on top of that, we’re lonely. Tea and yoga just aren’t relevant when your deepest urge is not for tranquility but for human connection. “We’re inherently social animals, and social media provides us with an access, a conduit to other people’s social lives that especially right now is less available,” Whillans says. “So it absolutely does not surprise me at all that we are trying to take back control over a very stressful time.” Scrolling through your phone at night, she says, allows us to “imagine alternative realities of things we could be doing.” Overdoing it on social media is an understandable reaction to social distancing, Ryan agrees. “A lot of my patients are struggling during the pandemic with quarantine depression because everything is remote, isolated—their days kind of run together,” she says. Of course we’re trying to scroll our way into feeling better.

So how do we stop?

Laurie Santos, Ph.D., the director of the Comparative Cognition Lab at Yale, whose class on the psychology of happiness has become world-famous, has the answer you might not want to hear: “There’s lots of research showing that feeling like you have a bit of free time is super important for well-being,” she says. But at the same time, “many of the problems that drive revenge sleep procrastination—feeling depressed, being too burned out to enjoy your day, and so on—can be helped by simply getting more sleep,” she adds. “So I worry that people are creating a vicious cycle by ruining what leisure time they do have by not getting enough sleep.” Of course, we all know that we should get more sleep. But Santos offers it not as an annoying cure-all, but as a real, strategic opportunity to potentially break the “revenge bedtime” cycle.

You can also do more to optimize the time you do spend on your nighttime “revenge,” she says. “Often, when we get free time, we flop down and watch TV or scroll through social media. These leisure activities don’t really give us the well-being bump we assume.” We would feel more satisfied at the end of the day, she says, if we spent time on leisure activities that let us learn or give us a sense of “flow.” (Apparently the gentle movement of Netflix’s “next episode” button does not count as “flow.”)

Ryan and Shapiro both recommend carving out breaks while it’s still light outside—calendaring them in and taking them seriously. Ryan, knowing that later in the evening she’ll be busy with her kids, builds 15 minute segments into her workday. “I shut my office door, I put my music on, and I just breathe,” she says. But it would be okay to use that time just to watch half a TV show, she adds. Shapiro says that, to avoid the mindless scroll later at night, you have to practice not being afraid of your thoughts. Meditate, even for five minutes. Actively stopping and asking yourself how you’re doing throughout the day will help you avoid an outpouring of negative feelings—and subsequent hours of scrolling—at night. A bonus: If you do this during work, you can hopefully get “revenge” (or in this case, basic workers’ rights) by taking time out of your workday, not out of your free time.

Haider, whose TikTok launched a thousand “It me”s, says her DMs are currently flooded by people who want to change. Me too—I find myself fighting sleep a few nights a week, desperately grasping for a few more moments of positive emotion before I pass out and start the day again. I think the thing about bedtime revenge procrastination is that, however bleak its origins are and whatever toll it takes, it’s a quiet reminder from your unconscious that you really do like being alive. There are so many good things in life that you don’t want to fall asleep and miss them. We want one more funny video, one more text from a friend, one more moment feeling awake, and happy, and free.

Good News, Inspiring, Positive Stories – Good News Network

This is GREAT!!


Source: Good News, Inspiring, Positive Stories – Good News Network

BounceBack Ontario – Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Source: BounceBack Ontario – Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

The Worry Trap: 10 simple ways to break free from worrying too much

Source: The Worry Trap: 10 simple ways to break free from worrying too much

The worry trap has had a hold on each of us at one time or another. Worry is the worst when it comes to emotional clutter. Like so many of the thoughts and emotions we experience, worry becomes a habit and then a trap. The worry trap keeps us in an endless loop of what ifs …

  • What if I had done this differently?
  • What if they are thinking about what I said or did?
  • What if this happens?
  • What if this doesn’t happen?
  • What if I fail, or succeed, or love, or lose?

I’ve written about my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis before and the changes I’ve made to live well with MS, but I haven’t really shared how worried I was at first. At one appointment, when I couldn’t stand up and close my eyes without falling over, and after reviewing my MRI scans, my neurologist said, “You are standing on the edge of a cliff.” He went on to explain that if I ignored the symptoms and test results, I’d likely go downhill quickly but taking action could result in a completely different outcome. And then there were the people who told us we should think about remodeling our home, or consider moving somewhere without stairs so when my MS progressed, I could still get around. I worried at first. I worried about falling off the cliff. I worried that I’d wake up blind. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to feel my feet hit the floor when I got out of bed. I worried I wouldn’t be able to take care of my daughter or hike with my family.

It’s been more than 10 years since I chose to take action and back away from the edge of the cliff and find my way out of the worry trap. Since then I’ve ridden my bike hundreds of miles, climbed mountains, skied down them, and traveled around the world. Today I can stand up, close my eyes and feel steady. Recent MRI scans show no MS progression. If I had spent the last 10 years worrying about my decline, I believe I would have declined. And if I was caught in the worry trap, I never would have changed myself.

Worry keeps us up at night. Worry weighs us down. Worry encourages fear and makes us tired, cranky and scared. Worry is a trap.

The Worry Trap: 10 simple ways to break free

1. Be present.
Worry is always about the past or the future. It’s never about now. Be in the now while it’s happening and unfolding. Experience it. Engage in it. Don’t let worry distract you from another present moment.

Being present doesn’t happen naturally. It takes practice. Practice daily by sitting quietly and being present for 10 minutes. Try an app like Calm or Headspace to help.

2. Write out the worry.
When you worry, you can think about it and get all caught up in the trap or you can write it down. When you see it on paper, it isn’t as mysterious or big anymore. Get it off your mind and onto paper. If you don’t like to write, make a quick audio recording about your worry. When you’re finished, listen to it and then ceremoniously delete it. Goodbye worry.

3. Have fewer things to worry about.
Simplicity helps you worry less. I used to worry about making ends meet, then I started working on fewer ends. With less around, there is less worry. Be discerning about what you choose to surround yourself with. Hold on to what matters. Let go of the rest.

4. Take action.
What can you do about your worry? Make a list of 10 things you can do. If there is an action you can take, take it. If there is nothing you can do, see #2.

5. Ask for help.
If you can’t see through your worry. If it’s chewing you up on the inside and you can not let it go, ask someone you love for help or join a community of people who want to help. Try the MindBodyWise Living Room on Facebook.

6. Know what’s best for you.
Sometimes we worry because of what other people say, or even because of what we think they think. Worry less about their opinions about your life by knowing your heart. I find great inspiration and guidance from hearing other people’s stories, talking to friends, and listening to advice, but when I want to know what’s best for me, I put my hands on my heart and turn to the person who knows me best.

7. Move your body.
Take a walk. Go to a yoga class. Turn on your favorite music and dance around your house. Climb a mountain. Literally shake off the worry by moving.

8. Read a book.
Sometimes all it takes to get out of the trap is a little distraction. Shut down the internet and read a book. Get lost in a love story, or read something that transports you to a different time and place. If you can’t remove your worries, remove yourself from them.

9. Help someone else.
Get out of your head. Stop thinking about yourself. Volunteer locally, make sandwiches for your homeless community, or donate to a cause you believe in. The simplest way to stop thinking about yourself is to think about someone else.

10. Come back to love.
When you feel trapped by worry, come back to love. When you notice you are in the worry trap, think one good loving thought. Back burner the worry and think about who you love, what you love, and how you love. Shift your thoughts.

If you are consumed with worry, and stuck in the worry trap, take the steps necessary to break free. You deserve to lay your head on your pillow at the end of the day and rest easy. You deserve to engage in ordinary moments during the day that result in laughter, new ideas, and long-lasting memories. You deserve to be free and only you can choose to make that happen.

Service Dogs, Working Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs: What’s the Difference? – Walk With Zoey

Source: Service Dogs, Working Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs: What’s the Difference? – Walk With Zoey

Service Dogs, Working Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs: What’s the Difference?

Dogs have been aiding and working with humans since ancient times, in everything from farming to hunting to protection and more. Service dogs, working dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals all fulfill important roles in their aid to humans, but the terms are not interchangeable. Each recognization is specifically defined, both in terms of the jobs undertaken and the legals rights offered.

What Do Service Dogs Do?
As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are individually trained to perform specific tasks and to work with people with disabilities. According to the ADA, disabilities can be “physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” The work of the service dog must be directly related to the handler’s disability. These are just some of the things a service dog can do:

Guide dogs help blind people navigate in the world.
Hearing (or signal) dogs alert deaf people to sounds, such as a knock on the door or a person entering the room.
Psychiatric dogs are trained to detect and lessen the effects of a psychiatric episode.
Service dogs help those in wheelchairs or who are otherwise physically limited. They may open doors or cabinets, fetch things their handler can’t reach, and carry items for their handler.
Autism assistance dogs are trained to help those on the autism spectrum to distinguish important sensory signals, such as a smoke alarm, from other sensory input. They may also alert their handler to repetitive behaviors or overstimulation.
Service dogs that are trained to recognize seizures and will stand guard over their handler during a seizure or go for help.
What Rights Do Service Dogs Have?
The ADA mandates that service dogs have full public access rights, which means they are allowed to go places where are animals are forbidden. They can be brought into restaurants, stores, libraries, and other public spaces. They must be permitted in housing, even if other pets are not allowed. Service dogs are also allowed on airplanes and other public transport. One caveat: each airline has its own rules regarding service dogs. Most require that the dog sits on the traveler’s lap or at their feet. Dogs cannot block the aisle or sit in the emergency exit row. Service dogs are exempt from the pet fees that airlines charge.

What is a Working Dog?

A working dog is a purpose-trained canine that learns and performs tasks to assist its human companions. Detection, herding, hunting, search and rescue, police, and military dogs are all examples of working dogs. Working dogs often rely on their excellent senses of smell to help out where humans fall short. Just a few of the jobs performed by working dogs include:

Search and rescue. From missing persons cases to natural disasters, dogs have been an integral part in finding people in dire situations. Search and rescue (SAR) dogs can either use a scent in the air or the scent of a specific object to find who they’re looking for. They can be used in many different situations, including disasters, cadaver searches, drowning situations, and avalanches. Bloodhounds are widely used in this role.
Explosives detection. These canine heroes work with the police, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and military to locate dangerous materials. The dogs go through an intense training course to learn how to locate and identify a wide variety of explosives and to alert their handlers of its presence. Breeds that excel in this kind of work include the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois.
Cancer detection. Believe it or not, scientists were able to train Labrador Retrievers to sniff out cancer in patients’ breath by smelling samples and sitting down in front of the one that was cancerous. Cancer cells give off different odors than regular cells and they change the way a person’s breath smells– a dog’s keen nose can tell the difference. In one case in particular, the Lab correctly diagnosed the disease 98 percent of the time, whereas a test that is commonly used found the cancer only 10 percent of the time.
Allergy alert dogs. These dogs are trained to detect the allergen and its residue at schools, social events, and everyday activities and alert their owner. Their training is similar to that of a police dog learning to track scents or drugs. Breeds commonly trained as allergy alert dogs are the Poodle and the Portuguese Water Dog.
Since working dogs are usually specifically trained to perform certain roles in certain locations, they are not often subject to legal ramifications. When they are on the job, however, working dogs should not be approached or petted, as doing their job properly requires a high level of focus without distractions.

What is a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs play a different helping role than service dogs and emotional support animals. They aren’t trained to live with a specific handler. Rather, these are dogs that — with their human teammate (often the dog’s owner) — volunteer in clinical settings, such as hospitals, mental health institutions, hospices, schools, and nursing homes, where they provide comfort, affection, and even love in the course of their work. Therapy dogs are trained to be comfortable in new environments and to interact with different people. They should have a calm temperament, be unfazed by unfamiliar noises and movements, be comfortable being handled, and love people.

Do Therapy Dogs Have Legal Rights?
Although they are defined as comfort dogs and often used in therapeutic settings, therapy dogs are not considered service dogs under the ADA and don’t have the same legal right to access in public spaces. There are no uniform state or national rules that regulate and certify therapy dogs, and different organizations have different guidelines. As a general rule, therapy dogs should be trained, insured, and licensed by the non-profit that’s offering their services.

Can My Dog Be a Therapy Dog?
If you’re interested in volunteering and think your dog may be a great candidate to be a therapy dog, organizations like the Alliance of Therapy Dogs test dog for their suitability and, if accepted, have guidelines that must be followed.

While it doesn’t certify therapy dogs, the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program offers their training program to organizations, and the CGC test is often a prerequisite required by therapy dog organizations.

What Do Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) Do?
Emotional support dogs are not considered service dogs under the ADA. They may be trained for a specific owner, but they are not trained for specific tasks or duties to aid a person with a disability, and this is the main difference between ESAs and service dogs. This doesn’t minimize the support these dogs provide for people with a psychological disorder. They’re considered companion animals and ease anxiety, depression, some phobias, and loneliness. In order to be considered an emotional support dog, it must be prescribed by a mental health professional for a patient with a diagnosed psychological or emotional disorder, such as anxiety disorder, major depression, or panic attacks.

What Rights Do Emotional Support Animals Have?
Unlike service dogs, ESAs have only limited legal rights and those typically require a letter of diagnosis from the owner’s doctor or psychiatrist. While they don’t have unlimited access to public spaces, the Fair Housing Act mandates “reasonable accommodations” for emotional support animals even in buildings that don’t allow pets. The Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to allow ESAs on flights, but travelers must have a letter from a doctor or licensed therapist. There may be additional requirements as well. Because so many people abuse the concept of an emotional support animal, including the traveler who tried to bring an “emotional support peacock” on board a United Airlines flight, airlines are tightening restrictions on emotional support animals. We can expect other commercial and public spaces to follow.

A Philosophical Cure for Anxiety | Psychology Today Canada

This is really great description of the cure.


Source: A Philosophical Cure for Anxiety | Psychology Today Canada

By facing up to death we can escape from the pettiness and paralysis of anxiety.

[Article revised on 27 April 2020.]

The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David (detail).
Source: Wikicommons

In his paper of 1943, A Theory of Human Motivation, psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that healthy human beings had a certain number of needs, and that these needs are arranged in a hierarchy, with some needs (such as physiological and safety needs) being more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs). Maslow’s so-called ‘hierarchy of needs’ is often presented as a five-level pyramid, with higher needs coming into focus only once lower, more basic needs have been met.

Maslow called the bottom four levels of the pyramid ‘deficiency needs’ because we do not feel anything if they are met, but become anxious or distressed if they are not. Thus, physiological needs such as eating, drinking, and sleeping are deficiency needs, as are safety needs, social needs such as friendship and sexual intimacy, and ego needs such as self-esteem and recognition. On the other hand, he called the fifth, top level of the pyramid a ‘growth need’ because our need to self-actualize enables us to fulfill our true and highest potential as human beings.

Neel Burton
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Source: Neel Burton

Once we have met our deficiency needs, the focus of our anxiety shifts to self-actualization, and we begin, even if only at a sub- or semi-conscious level, to contemplate our bigger picture. However, only a small minority of people is able to self- actualize because self-actualization requires uncommon qualities such as honesty, independence, awareness, objectivity, creativity, and originality.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been criticized for being overly schematic and lacking in scientific grounding, but it presents an intuitive and potentially useful theory of human motivation. After all, there is surely some truth in the popular saying that one cannot philosophize on an empty stomach, or in Aristotle’s observation that, ‘all paid work absorbs and degrades the mind’.

Many people who have met all their deficiency needs do not self-actualize, instead inventing more deficiency needs for themselves, because to contemplate the meaning of their life and of life in general would lead them to entertain the possibility of their meaninglessness and the prospect of their own death and annihilation.

A person who begins to contemplate his bigger picture may come to fear that life is meaningless and death inevitable, but at the same time cling on to the cherished belief that his life is eternal or important or at least significant. This gives rise to an inner conflict that is sometimes referred to as ‘existential anxiety’ or, more colourfully, ‘the trauma of non-being’.

While fear and anxiety and their pathological forms (such as agoraphobia, panic disorder, or PTSD) are grounded in threats to life, existential anxiety is rooted in the brevity and apparent meaninglessness or absurdity of life. Existential anxiety is so disturbing and unsettling that most people avoid it at all costs, constructing a false reality out of goals, ambitions, habits, customs, values, culture, and religion so as to deceive themselves that their lives are special and meaningful and that death is distant or delusory.

However, such self-deception comes at a heavy price. According to Jean-Paul Sartre, people who refuse to face up to ‘non-being’ are acting in ‘bad faith’, and living out a life that is inauthentic and unfulfilling. Facing up to non-being can bring insecurity, loneliness, responsibility, and consequently anxiety, but it can also bring a sense of calm, freedom, and even nobility. Far from being pathological, existential anxiety is a sign of health, strength, and courage, and a harbinger of bigger and better things to come.

For theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965), refusing to face up to non-being leads not only to a life that is inauthentic but also to pathological (or neurotic) anxiety.

In The Courage to Be, Tillich asserts:

He who does not succeed in taking his anxiety courageously upon himself can succeed in avoiding the extreme situation of despair by escaping into neurosis. He still affirms himself but on a limited scale. Neurosis is the way of avoiding nonbeing by avoiding being.

According to this outlook, pathological anxiety, though seemingly grounded in threats to life, in fact arises from repressed existential anxiety, which itself arises from our uniquely human capacity for self-consciousness.

Facing up to non-being enables us to put our life into perspective, see it in its entirety, and thereby lend it a sense of direction and unity. If the ultimate source of anxiety is fear of the future, the future ends in death; and if the ultimate source of anxiety is uncertainty, death is the only certainty. It is only by facing up to death, accepting its inevitability, and integrating it into life that we can escape from the pettiness and paralysis of anxiety, and, in so doing, free ourselves to make the most out of our lives and out of ourselves.

Some philosophers have gone even further by asserting that the very purpose of life is none other than to prepare for death. In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates, who is not long to die, tells the philosophers Simmias and Cebes that absolute justice, absolute beauty, or absolute good cannot be apprehended with the eyes or any other bodily organ, but only by the mind or soul. Therefore, the philosopher seeks in as far as possible to separate body from soul and become pure soul. As death is the complete separation of body and soul, the philosopher aims at death, and indeed can be said to be almost dead.

Neel Burton is author of The Meaning of Madness and other books.

How to do the Faster EFT Tap — The Basic Recipe

Sep 27, 2017 · 5 min read

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe is easy, quick, efficient, effective and a fun healing tool.

It is used to change the references held in the subconscious that result in problems in all areas of life.

It is this procedure that is used for every round of tapping.

This Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe method can be used to solve any issue — financial, personal, professional, emotional, psychological, physiological, health related.

This Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe has provided relief to thousands of people around the world with impressive results.

We encourage you to try and test this out for yourself.

But first, you will need to know the basics of Faster EFT Tapping, so let’s start!

With just SIX easy steps to learn, it is the Fastest EFT tapping technique out there.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe has only FIVE steps, that takes only 30 seconds to do.

Anyone of any age can learn this simple technique and use it whenever they want, wherever they are with lasting results.

It may seem a little strange at first, but after a couple of round of using the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe, you’ll feel more comfortable.

Just like with anything new you learn, it takes practice and persistence.

This will be a tool that can be used throughout your life, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

It’ll always be on hand for you to use, no matter the circumstances.

Why Faster EFT Works

In order for a problem to exist, there must be proof (the memory or record of an experience) and feelings.

Feelings are what make a problem a problem.

It is how you feel about something that determines whether it’s a problem or not.

If you feel good, that means you like something.

Conversely, if you feel bad, it means you don’t like something.

It’s that simple.

It is the feelings that make the problem real.

For example, Tom feels angry when he hears loud music in a parked car.

Another person, Tina, may enjoy the music.

She hears the same loud music, but she feels good.

In each of those cases, the subconscious is referencing a record that connects loud music in parked cars with either a negative meaning or a positive meaning; and then the brain signals the organs to produce the matching chemicals for those emotions.

How Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe works

FasterEFT is an energy based system as well, founded on Neurology and Biology.

Emotions affect both our physical and mental wellbeing.

So it follows that once your turbulent emotions are healed and cleaned up, you’ll have overall wellbeing.

The foundation belief in Faster EFT is that there is no disruption of energy, unlike traditional EFT.

In fact everything in your life and body is functioning as it should.

According to the way the brain has developed in order to survive in the environment, depending on your life’s experiences.

In Faster EFT, the tapping is used to disrupt the signal between the brain and the major organs of the body that trigger the fight or flight response while changing neural pathways in the neocortex of the brain.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe doesn’t just deal with energy disruptions, which only fixes the outer issue of the problem.

It deals with the root cause of the problems, eliminating them completely.

Faster EFT recognizes that experiences are recorded in the subconscious for future reference.

This is how we learn to walk, drive, take a shower, eat, wash the dishes, type etc. without needing to consciously concentrate on every movement and decision.

Regular EFT specifically believes that negative emotions have nothing to do with memories, and are caused only by a disruption in the body’s energy system.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe interrupts that signal between the brain and the organs by focusing on the meridian points connected to those organs.

This rewrites the reference or memory associated with that trigger.

For example, if Tom feels angered by the loud music and wanted to change that automatic response, he could use the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe to disrupt the production of the chemicals that cause the feeling of anger when he hears the loud music.

And change the meaning of the loud music in his subconscious from “rude” or “disruptive” (or whatever they learned it means) to fun and enjoyment.

This will then result in an automatic feeling of enjoyment and fun when Tom hears that loud music in the future.

The Faster EFT Tapping Points

The following illustration is pretty straightforward and we’ll give a brief explanation with it as well.

For now, just identify each of these Faster EFT Tapping points on your body and follow along!

Step #1: Aim

Notice how you know you have the problem.

You don’t need to know what the emotions or feelings are, just notice how you know they’re there.

What do you feel?

Where in your body do you feel it?

What do you see or hear?

How do you know it’s a problem?

Step #2: Tap

Use two fingers to tap the following points, while focusing on the feeling of your fingers on your skin:

  • between your eyebrows
  • beside your eye
  • under your eye
  • just below your collarbone

While you are tapping, say “Let it go”. You can also add “It’s safe to let it go”.

Note: It doesn’t matter which side you tap — you can do either side, or both if you like.

Step #3: Peace

Grab your wrist, take a deep breath, blow it out, and say “peace” — and go to a peaceful memory for a moment.

Step #4: Check

Go back to your problem and take notice of how it’s changed.

Do you feel different?

Is the intensity of the feeling different?

Does the memory look or sound different?

Just notice.

Step #5: Repeat

Repeat steps two to four until the feeling or memory has “flipped” — in other words, the negative memory has been replaced by a positive memory.

Read: Why do We “ Reimprint or Flip” Memories in Faster EFT?

Watch the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe

The Key to Success in using Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe:

Persistence is essential.

Don’t stop until it’s changed — even if it doesn’t feel like it’s going to change — it will, as long as you keep going until it does.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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Robert Smith

Written by

Creator of FasterEFT and CEO of Skills to Change Institute

Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping Tutorials | EFT Universe

I find I’m using this technique more and more with clients. I learned it with my first teachers in Halifax during the Eastwind Program.


Source: Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping Tutorials | EFT | EFT Universe Learn EFT Tapping Emotional Freedom Techniques

eft logo sub pages

EFT Tapping Tutorials: How to do EFT Tapping

EFT Tapping Sequence


This tutorial page, plus The EFT Manual, the EFT workshops, and the resources on this website, will show you how.

There are a lucky few people who get to make history.

You’re about to join their number. EFT has the potential to do just that: change the entire trajectory of human experience.

While that’s a very bold claim, you’ll find the scientific evidence on this site to back it up. For as long as human beings have existed on this planet, people have suffered.

They’ve suffered from physical problems like pain and disease. They’ve suffered from psychological problems like anxiety and misunderstanding, social strife, and dysfunctional belief systems.

This suffering is not inevitable. It can be lessened, and even a 1% reduction in human pain would make a difference. EFT research shows that, in just a few hours, much greater reductions are possible.

In a study of 216 healthcare workers, anxiety and depression dropped by 45%. Pain dropped by 68%. Imagine those improvements spreading over the globe.

That’s what’s possible with EFT.


1. Easy EFT

2. The Importance of Being Specific

3. Aspects

4. The Movie Technique

5. Tell the Story

6. The Constricted Breathing Technique

7. The Tearless Trauma Technique

8. The Personal Peace Procedure

9. Borrowing Benefits

10. Professional EFT? Or Easy EFT

11. Try It On Everything

12. The Daisy Chain Opportunity

13. The Daily Peace Procedure for Children

14. When Your Client Feels Worse

15. Finding Core Issues

16. When Physical Symptoms Resist Healing

17. EFT Guidelines for Serious Disease

18. Dissociation

19. Building Bridges from Existing Beliefs to EFT

The video below will have you tapping effectively within a couple of minutes; you can find written instructions in the free EFT Mini-Manual.




Cherophobia: Is Being Too Happy A Thing?

Source: Cherophobia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Cherophobia is a phobia where a person has an irrational aversion to being happy. The term comes from the Greek word “chero,” which means “to rejoice.” When a person experiences cherophobia, they’re often afraid to participate in activities that many would characterize as fun, or of being happy.

This condition is one that’s not widely researched or defined. Psychiatrists most commonly use criteria in the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to diagnose mental health conditions. Currently, the DSM-5 doesn’t list cherophobia as a disorder. However, there are some mental health experts that discuss this phobia and its potential treatments.

What are the symptoms of cherophobia?

Some medical experts classify cherophobia as a form of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is an irrational or heightened sense of fear related to the perceived threat. In the case of cherophobia, the anxiety is related to participation in activities that would be thought to make you happy.

Someone who has cherophobia isn’t necessarily a sad person, but instead is one that avoids activities that could lead to happiness or joy. Examples of symptoms associated with cherophobia could include:

  • experiencing anxiety at the thought of going to a joyful social gathering, like a party, concert, or other similar event
  • rejecting opportunities that could lead to positive life changes due to fear that something bad will follow
  • refusal to participate in activities that most would call fun

Some of the key thoughts a person who experiences cherophobia may express include:

  • Being happy will mean something bad will happen to me.
  • Happiness makes you a bad or worse person.
  • Showing that you’re happy is bad for you or for your friends and family.
  • Trying to be happy is a waste of time and effort.

In an article from the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, the authors created a Fear of Happiness Scale. Created to compare fear of happiness across 14 cultures, the scale can also help a person or their doctor to evaluate if they have symptoms of cherophobia. Some statements include:

  • I prefer not to be too joyful, because usually joy is followed by sadness.
  • Disasters often follow good fortune.
  • Excessive joy has some bad consequences.

By rating these statements on a 1 to 7 scale of how much you agree, it may be able to show that you have a fear or misperception of happiness.

What are the causes of cherophobia?

Sometimes cherophobia can stem from the belief that if something very good happens to a person, or if their life is going well, that a bad event is destined to happen. As a result, they may fear activities related to happiness because they believe they can ward off something bad from happening. This is often the case when someone has experienced a past physical or emotional traumatic event.

An introvert may be more likely to experience cherophobia. An introvert is a person who typically prefers to do activities alone or with one to two people at a time. They’re often seen as reflective and reserved. They may feel intimidated or uncomfortable in group settings, loud places, and places with a lot of people.

Perfectionists are another personality type that may be associated with cherophobia. Those who are perfectionists may feel happiness is a trait only of lazy or unproductive people. As a result, they may avoid activities that could bring happiness to them because these activities are seen as unproductive.

What are the treatments for cherophobia?

Because cherophobia hasn’t been largely detailed or studied as its own separate disorder, there aren’t FDA-approved medications or other definitive treatments that a person may pursue to treat the condition.

However, some suggested treatments include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapy that helps a person recognize faulty lines of thinking and identify behaviors that can help them change
  • relaxation strategies, such as deep breathing, journaling, or exercising
  • hypnotherapy
  • exposure to happiness-provoking events as a means to help a person identify that happiness doesn’t have to have adverse effects

Not everyone with an aversion to happiness necessarily needs treatment. Some people feel happier and more secure when they’re avoiding happiness. Unless cherophobia is interfering with their own personal quality of life or ability to maintain a job, they may not require treatment at all.

However, if the symptoms of cherophobia are related to a past trauma, treating an underlying condition may help to treat cherophobia.

Five Unconscious Beliefs that May be Holding You Back

I really like this kind of article. It gets us thinking of the bigger picture and how we are shaping our lives based on our precocieved beliefs.


Source: Five Unconscious Beliefs that May be Holding You Back


“Words can inspire, and words can destroy. Choose yours well.” ~ Robin Sharma

We do not see the world as it is, but rather as we are. The thoughts, beliefs and expectations we hold about ourselves, others or life in general are what we spotlight and amplify in the physical world.

For example, if a person repeatedly thinks the thought, “No one ever helps me do anything, I always have to do everything myself,” it will eventually turn into a deep rooted belief. Once the belief is strongly held, that person will start to recognize every situation that reinforces the belief.

Eventually the power of belief and intention takes over and starts to draw situations to that person that reinforces the thought. They find themselves in circumstance after circumstance where no one is helping.

There are certain life lessons that we may have heard over the years that have gotten embedded in our subconscious. Often, a belief is so deep in our unconscious mind that we may not even know that we hold the belief, because we have never taken the time to confront it.

Because of this, we may be participating in a limited belief system that is having a negative effect on our life without our even realizing it.

Here are five “life lessons” that we may have heard that need to be confronted and unlearned in order to help us live a happier existence:

1. Money is the root of all evil

Has money motivated people to be greedy, power-hungry, or participate in any number of unspeakable acts? Yes, of course. But is this the money’s fault or the person’s? When we really think about it, money is just a piece of paper. It is the person holding the bill who decides whether to use it to make the world a better place or a worse one.

Since we live in a society that requires money to live, we must not look at money as the enemy. Greed, power, selfishness, etc…yes… but money… it’s just a piece of paper. When we see money as evil we limit our own ability to use money as a means to help others and live a fulfilling life ourselves.

2. Nothing in life comes easy

start-changing-nowLife is formed off of our expectations. If we are always expecting everything to be so difficult, we can’t complain when things actually are. Yes, there will be unplanned events, difficult days, and times when we will be forced to face our fears.

But, if we remember that our success rate at getting through a bad day is 100% so far, and when we look back at something we were going through 5 years ago and realize how trivial it seems now, it puts things in a different perspective.Life doesn’t always have to be hard. Think of failures and obstacles as opportunities for growth and redirection. If we expect the best case scenario in all situations, we may actually be surprised to find that most things aren’t as hard as we thought they would be.

3. A leopard never changes it’s spots

Life is about change. We aren’t the same person we were 10 years ago. We aren’t the same person we were yesterday, even. Everyone has the power to become a better person. If we wouldn’t want people to hold us to the same person we were in the past, we must give others the benefit of being able to evolve and mature as well. Expect the best from people.

Yes, there may be some times when we are disappointed with the actions of others, but there will also be those people who learned from their mistakes, and decide to turn their mistakes into their reason to change.

4. You can’t depend on anyone but yourself

everything-possibleThis one can be tricky, because essentially it is true. Really, the only person we have control over and therefore can depend on or expect anything from is ourselves.

However, the problem comes in when we become so attached to this idea that we refuse to accept help from others, because of pride or some other ego-driven reason.

What most people don’t realize is the act of receiving is just as important as the act of giving. Both actions keep the flow of energy moving to and through us. So yes, depend on yourself, but when someone comes along that is happy to help us with something, let them.

Help in our lives can come from any number of ways, and we must be open to all of it in order to receive it. We must not only give joyfully, but receive joyfully as well.

5. Time is limited

All we really have is time. And by the time the time runs out we won’t care about not having enough time because we will no longer be here. Anytime we tell ourselves that something is going to take too much time to accomplish something, we set ourselves up for failure because time is going to pass regardless.

Either we can spend it working towards something we really want or we can spend it thinking about what we want, and then talking ourselves out of it because it’s going to take too much time. The present moment is all that truly exists, and we can either spend it taking action and doing something we love, or we can waste it talking ourselves out of following what we really truly want out of life.

Take the time to confront every belief that you are holding. Make sure you aren’t holding on to something that is actually making your life less fulfilling and harder. Just because we’ve heard a phrase a million times doesn’t mean it has to be true for us.

Make your own life lessons. Expect amazingness. Make the “impossible” possi

14 Signs Your Perfectionism Has Gotten Out Of Control

As a culture, we tend to reward perfectionists for their insistence on setting high standards and relentless drive to meet those standards. And perfectionists frequently are high achievers — but the price they pay for success can be chronic unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

“Reaching for the stars, perfectionists may end up clutching at air,” psychologist David Burns warned in a 1980 Psychology Today essay. “[Perfectionists] are especially given to troubled relationships and mood disorders.”

Perfectionism doesn’t have to reach Black Swan levels to wreak havoc on your life and health. Even casual perfectionists (who may not think of themselves as perfectionists at all) can experience the negative side-effects of their personal demand for excellence. Here are 14 signs that perfectionism could actually be holding you back — and simple ways to start letting go.

1. You’ve always been eager to please.

Perfectionism often starts in childhood. At a young age, we’re told to reach for the stars — parents and teachers encourage their children to become high achievers and give them gold stars for work well done (and in some cases, punishing them for failing to measure up). Perfectionists learn early on to live by the words “I achieve, therefore I am” — and nothing thrills them quite like impressing others (or themselves) with their performance.

Unfortunately, chasing those straight A’s — in school, work and life — can lead to a lifetime of frustration and self-doubt.

“The reach for perfection can be painful because it is often driven by both a desire to do well and a fear of the consequences of not doing well,” says psychologist Monica Ramirez Basco. “This is the double-edged sword of perfectionism.”

2. You know your drive to perfection is hurting you, but you consider it the price you pay for success.

The prototypical perfectionist is someone who will go to great (and often unhealthy) lengths to avoid being average or mediocre, and who takes on a “no pain, no gain” mentality in their pursuit of greatness. Although perfectionists aren’t necessarily high achievers, perfectionism is frequently tied to workaholism.

“[The perfectionist] acknowledges that his relentless standards are stressful and somewhat unreasonable, but he believes they drive him to levels of excellence and productivity he could never attain otherwise,” Burns writes.

3. You’re a big procrastinator.

The great irony of perfectionism is that while it’s characterized by an intense drive to succeed, it can be the very thing that prevents success. Perfectionism is highly correlated with fear of failure (which is generally not the best motivator) and self-defeating behavior, such as excessive procrastination.

Studies have shows that other-oriented perfectionism (a maladaptive form of perfectionism which is motivated by the desire for social approval), is linked with the tendency to put off tasks. Among these other-oriented perfectionists, procrastination stems largely from the anticipation of disapproval from others, according to York University researchers. Adaptive perfectionists, on the other hand, are less prone to procrastination.

4. You’re highly critical of others.

Being judgmental toward others is a common psychological defense mechanism: we reject in others what we can’t accept in ourselves. And for perfectionists, there can be a lot to reject. Perfectionists are highly discriminating, and few are beyond the reach of their critical eye.

By being less tough on others, some perfectionists might find that they start easing up on themselves.

“Look not to the faults of others, nor to their omissions and commissions,” the Buddha wisely advised. “But rather look to your own acts, to what you have done and left undone.”

5. You go big or go home.

Many perfectionists struggle with black-and-white thinking — you’re a success one moment and a failure the next, based on your lastest accomplishment or failure — and they do things in extremes. If you have perfectionist tendencies, you’ll probably only throw yourself into a new project or task if you know there’s a good chance you can succeed — and if there’s a risk of failure, you’ll likely avoid it altogether. Studies have found perfectionists to be risk-averse, which can inhibit innovation and creativity.

For perfectionists, life is an all or nothing game. When a perfectionist sets her mind to something, her powerful drive and ambition can lead her to stop at nothing to accomplish that goal. It’s unsurprising, then, that perfectionists are at high risk for eating disorders.

6. You have a hard time opening up to other people.

Author and researcher Brene Brown has called perfectionism a “20-ton shield” that we carry around to protect ourselves from getting hurt — but in most cases, perfectionism simply prevents us from truly connecting with others.

Because of their intense fear of failure and rejection, perfectionists often have a hard time letting themselves be exposed or vulnerable, according to psychologist Shauna Springer.

“It is very hard for a perfectionist to share his or her internal experience with a partner,” Springer writes in Psychology Today. “Perfectionists often feel that they must always be strong and in control of their emotions. A perfectionist may avoid talking about personal fears, inadequacies, insecurities, and disappointments with others, even with those with whom they are closest.”

7. You know there’s no use crying over spilt milk… but you do anyway.

Whether it’s burning the cookies or being five minutes late for a meeting, the perfection-seeking tend to obsess over every little mistake. This can add up to a whole lot of meltdowns, existential crises, and grown-up temper tantrums. When your main focus is on failure and you’re driven by the desire to avoid it at all costs, even the smallest infraction is evidence for a grand thesis of personal failure.

“Lacking a deep and consistent source of self-esteem, failures hit especially hard for perfectionists, and may lead to long bouts of depression and withdrawal in some individuals,” writes Springer.

8. You take everything personally.

Because they take every setback and criticism personally, perfectionists tend to be less resilient than others. Rather than bouncing back from challenges and mistakes, the perfectionist is beaten down by them, taking every misstep as evidence for the truth of their deepest, continually plaguing fear: “I’m not good enough.”

9. … And you get really defensive when criticized.

You might be able to pick out a perfectionist in conversation when they jump to defend themselves at even the slightest hint of a criticism. In an effort to preserve their fragile self-image and the way they appear to others, a perfectionist tries to take control by defending themselves against any threat — even when no defense is needed.

10. You’re never quite “there yet.”

Because perfection is, of course, an impossible pursuit, perfectionists tend to have the perpetual feeling that they’re not quite there yet. Self-described perfectionist Christina Aguilera told InStyle in 2010 that she focuses on all the things she hasn’t yet accomplished, which gives her a drive to constantly out-do herself.

“I am an overachiever and an extreme perfectionist,” Aguilera said. “I would like to do more film and I feel that I still have yet to acquire the type of success that I desire. I’m sure there will definitely be a place that I will be at peace with knowing I’ve accomplished a lot.”

11. The image below makes you nervous.

12. You take pleasure in someone else’s failure, even though it has nothing to do with you.

Misery loves company, and perfectionists — who spend a lot of time and energy thinking and worrying about their own failure — can find relief and even pleasure in others’ challenges. For a moment, taking pleasure in someone else’s shortcomings might make you feel better about yourself, but in the long term, it only reinforces the kind of competitive and judgmental thinking that perfectionists thrive on.

13. You get secretly nostalgic for your school days.

Some people hated school, but you loved it, because success was quantifiable — you had assignments, grades, feedback, and a teacher whose job it was to provide positive feedback and a pat on the back for a job well-done. You might have been a teacher’s pet, or maybe you were voted “Most likely to succeed” in the yearbook. The structure of school and easy equation of “work hard, do well, be rewarded” is a comfort for most perfectionists.

In the real world, success is measured differently. Everything is structured differently. And while you might not ever tell anyone, there’s a part of you that misses that world where it was possible to get an A+ and call it a day.

14. You have a guilty soul.

Underneath it all, perfectionists are often plagued by guilt and shame. Maladaptive perfectionism — a drive to perfection that generally has social roots, and a feeling of pressure to succeed that derives from external, rather than internal, sources — is highly correlated with depression, anxiety, shame and guilt.

“Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving,” Brown told Oprah. “It’s… a way of thinking and feeling that says this: ‘If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgment.'”

Brown’s remedy? Try practicing authenticity. Let others see you, exactly as you are, and let go of the protecting shield of perfectionism in order to express vulnerability.

“Authenticity is a practice and you choose it every day,” she says, “sometimes every hour of every day.”

Calming Boxes Can Soothe | Psychoeducation in Psychotherapy

Calm yourself with a Calming Box

As a therapist, I have always been a big fan of offering my clients “hands on” practical strategies that can help them self-soothe immediately in times of anger and emotional distress. I refer to these self-soothing boxes by names such as a Calming Box or Coping Skills Toolbox.  Self-soothing boxes are made up of a variety of items to distract and soothe.  For example, a Hershey Kiss or Hug can remind us to be kind to ourselves and others and give figuratively “Hugs and Kisses” in times of anger and emotional upheaval. It also tastes good and gives ourselves a much needed “Kiss” or Hug!”

Using Calming Boxes are an example of an emotional regulation strategy in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, addressing the need to develop skills for increasing distress tolerance. The Coping Skills Toolbox replaces the urge for angry interpersonal exchanges or even self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse or self-harm.

To make up a Coping Skills Toolbox, you can take a shoebox or get a decorative box inexpensively at a dollar store or craft store. Using actual objects that serve to distract and self-soothe are great for both children and adults in times of distress. It is one thing to think about something, but another to provide an alternate activity or tangible soothing touchstone. Tangible objects help ground us. They are especially helpful in times of emotional upset to give immediate comfort and can serve as a distraction, as well as offering alternative activities. Each individual collects items in their individual boxes that are personally meaningful. Most items can be inexpensively found at the supermarket, dollar store, or around the house.

The following are some examples of items that could offer self- soothing and increase coping skills in times of distress.

•A stuffed animal to hug

•A Stress Ball to help relieve stress

•A bottle of bubbles to blow out frustration and “lighten up”

•A pencil to write yourself healthy reminders

•Joke books, Soduku or Crossword Puzzle books

•Scented candle

•Playing cards

•Notebook, journal or notecards to write out feelings

•Cards given to you from friends and family

•Calming oils to touch and smell

•Stress ball or small bouncing ball

•Book or file cards with Affirmations

•Small Play Dough – Good sensory outlet that you can mold and shape

•Yarn and needles for knitters

Self-Soothing boxes are especially fun to make in a group setting, as group participants can get ideas from fellow group members on what works for them to control their anger or impulsive tendencies in times of emotional distress.  If you are leading a therapeutic or educational group, have a variety of objects on a table, and go over with the group how these items can help soothe them. This can be a fun brainstorming activity, as there are no right or wrong answers. Sharing ideas of what is soothing can be quite therapeutic in itself, and encourages flexible thinking. At the end of the project, have members share with the group what they chose to put in their boxes, and discuss how their items will be used in times of emotional distress.

For more ideas of  how to use these “hands on” boxes for children as well as adults, click here for more details on how to assemble a Calming Box.