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POPULAR ARTICLES

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

When You Have Been Betrayed

Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Feedback, Self-Efficacy and the Development of Motor skills

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Performance Enhancement in the Martial Arts: A Review

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?

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Panic Assistance

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

Loving Kindness Meditation

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Meadow Relaxation

Rainy Autumn Morning

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Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

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Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank

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

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

Stop Panic and Anxiety: 50 Tools

The Cognitive Diary Method to Changing Your Life

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions



RECENT ARTICLES

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

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

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy



NEW AUDIOS

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

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

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

Day of Fishing Mindfulness

Audio Version of Article: Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

PsychNotes

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

Previous

February 5, 2016

Cognitive Diary Training Example: Husband Gives the Silent Treatment

EVENT: When I try to talk to my husband about problems in our relationship he won't respond

EMOTIONS: rejected, agitation, hurt

DISTRESS RATING: 8--High level of distress

THOUGHTS: "My husband doesn't respond to me when I tell him he's not attentive enough. He must not really love me. I'm just asking for a simple thing and he doesn't even try. I told him that if he doesn't care about me then he can just do whatever he wants and we'll just be roommates--he's probably having an affair anyway. But he just acts as if nothing is wrong.”

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE IRRATIONAL THINKING IN THIS EXAMPLE? There are at least 3 irrational beliefs.

HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THE THINKING? What is another way of thinking about the situation that won't cause the feelings of rejection, agitation, and hurt?

TAP HERE FOR ANSWER



February 2, 2016

The Purpose of “Normal” Low Self-Esteem

trophies
Where did the self-esteem movement go wrong? Why does artificially trying to inflate childrens' self-esteem (giving every child a trophy) cause entitlement and laziness? If children feel better about themselves, shouldn't they be more motivated to succeed, not less?

The problem is that the self-esteem movement took a concept that was meant to help people with abnormally low self-esteem that interfered with life functioning and applied it to normally functioning people. Their idea was that if low self-esteem is associated with depression, then it must be bad and the opposite must be good: we need to get rid of low self-esteem wherever we find it.

This is the problem with extreme thinking—it assumes that the opposite of bad must be good when the opposite of bad is sometimes also bad. Read more...



January 28, 2016

Passive-Aggressive Example: Why Does My Husband Want a "Reward" for Hurting Me?

Question: Best article on passive/aggressive. Wish I read this 27 years ago. Didn't know what I have been dealing with. Why does my husband want a "reward" of seeing me hurt, upset, put down? Is this sick behavior learned from watching his parents? Will he ever "want" to treat me nice? Or is he incapable? I just want a husband who loves me and acts like it. I have been telling him for years his behavior is emotionally abusive, but he cant seem to stop. Why? Why is his reward to see me unhappy?

TAP HERE FOR RESPONSE



January 21, 2016

Mindful Passion

The Mindful Attitude now available on Kindle!
At the age of 19 when I first learned about Maslow's concept of self-actualization in Psych 101, I thought, “It must be pretty boring to be self-actualized.” Under the mistaken impression that complete acceptance of the self and the world corresponded with a lack of passion to change the world, I wanted no part of self-actualization. At the same time, however, being at peace with the self intrigued me. And so began my search which led to a study of psychology, training in the martial arts and tai chi, and finally, an understanding of mindful awareness (to me—a synonym for self-actualization).

In the same way as I did, sometimes people get the impression that mindfulness is passive, mindless acceptance. They equate it with “blissing out”--a euphoric, contented state in which consciousness of the surrounding world is lost. This feel-good internal state, similar to some drug highs, is pursued as a way of escaping from the world and is erroneously considered happiness by some: “As long as I'm happy, who cares about anything else?” Read more...



January 20, 2016

When Health Policies Run Amok and Good Parenting Causes Problems: Peanut Allergies

squirrel with peanut You may have heard that peanut allergies in children are on the rise. The U.S. and the U.K. developed health policies to protect children from this life-threatening allergy. Good parents followed the public health policies recommending the avoidance of peanuts in the first years of life. But peanut allergies continued to increase at alarming rates--doubling in the last 10 years in Western countries.

Everything from chemical toxins to caesarean sections to vaccinations and genetically modified foods were blamed for the increase. The more public health tried to eliminate the problem by advocating avoidance of peanuts in the early years of life, the more it increased.

Finally, we have some answers that many people with common sense had already reached! Read more...



January 13, 2016

What Are Reasonable Goals?

Goals need to be carefully assessed to determine they are what you want to do, not what you should do. Unreasonable goals cause increased stress. By eliminating the “should” goals, you are more likely to develop reasonable goals.

Some people believe we have to have “shoulds” so as to do what is required of us. But that is a dismal view of humanity because it implies people only do what is necessary because they must. In contrast, I think that most “shoulds” are either unnecessary or have an underlying desire. For instance, a parent might believe that he should make breakfast every morning for his children. However, this may actually be a desire: “I want my children to eat a healthy breakfast.”

When you think of something as a demand it feels more stressful. When you think of it as a desire you feel better about yourself. Try it out. Take a should and reword it into a desire and see how it feels when you say it out loud: “I have to make breakfast for my kids” vs. “I like making breakfast for my kids because I know it starts out their day in a healthy way.” Usually the body feels different physically just by thinking of something in a different way. Read more...



January 8, 2016

The Physical Toll on Empathetic Parents and How to Find Balance

parent helping child learn to ride a bike
I once asked a client, “Would you rather be an emotionally sensitive person and have an anxiety disorder or would you rather be less compassionate and concerned about others?” Understanding that being emotionally empathic may come at a cost she preferred to be as she is. Such is true of most empathetic people—caring deeply about others, they are willing to sacrifice their own physical well-being even if they have a choice.

Parents who are empathetic have better relationships with their children. In addition, children of such parents are less likely to have depression or aggressive behavior and have a greater ability to empathize and manage their emotions in healthy ways. They also have lower levels of inflammation indicating they are likely to be more physically healthy. The parents experience psychological benefits likely due to feeling good about their parenting and having a sense of satisfaction and pride. However, the physical cost is greater for these parents. They show signs of chronic inflammation which may result in more stress-related illnesses (Manczak et al., 2015). Read more...



January 5, 2016

Selfies: A Sign of Low Self-esteem? Think Again

Van Gogh's Selfie
Culture often determines mental illness. If the majority of people experienced mania, it would not be considered abnormal. Instead, it would be the natural functioning of human beings. So, when 98% of our youth post selfies, why do we see it as a potential problem? Researchers look at this phenomena with the viewpoint that many had when rock and roll first burst onto the scene. It was new, loud, and different, and therefore, unnatural. Older adults viewed rock and roll as perverse, as the destruction of the youth and society. Read more...



January 4, 2016

Is It True that Parents are Less Happy than Non-parents?

You may have heard reports in the media stating that non-parents are happier than parents. However, that is a simplification of the true nature of this question. The answer is much more complex and depends on a number of factors (Nelson et al., 2014).

1) Child problems. When parents experience more frustration or worry related to their children they report lower levels of happiness. Such negative emotions may be particularly associated with problems the child may have or if the child has a more difficult personality style.

2) Strain. Under certain conditions children cause increased strain including physical, financial, and marital. For instance, younger children and children with problems may increase sleep disturbance in parents causing greater fatigue. In addition, parents may have less quality time for one another and more conflict due to disagreements over children. Read more...



January 2, 2016

Helping Children Achieve Their Potential

Parents have good intentions and want to help their children become the best they can be. However, indiscriminate praise is not the way to help children. In the video “How To Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential” Carol Dweck explains how praising intelligence creates a fixed mindset in children which causes a pattern of avoidant behavior. Children with a fixed mindset wish to avoid mistakes and do not seek out challenges due to fear of failure. Read more...



January 1, 2016

How to Succeed at Goals (or Why Goals Fail)

When people first make goals, they visualize success. When you initially develop your New Year's goals, whether it is days or hours in advance, you think about what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it. You envision succeeding. No one sets goals thinking "I can't do that." They set them with hope and a picture of what success looks like.

When people fail at achieving goals, what has usually changed is the internal image. Instead of imagining success, they are visualizing failure. “This is too hard—I can't do this.” Think of the last time you didn't achieve a goal you set--somehow your image became negative. Read more...



December 28, 2015

Reflecting on a Time of Change for Me

meadow
I haven't written much lately because I have been busy wrapping up my old life to start a new life. Recently, I retired from my clinical practice which also involved selling my home and moving to another part of the state. Having grown up and lived in the suburbs of a large metropolitan area, I will now be adjusting to living on forty acres in a very rural area. Instead of a clinical practice, I will be able to focus more on my writing and app development.

Although this change in my life is by choice and something I am looking forward to, change involves loss. I will miss the direct contact I have with clients. I will miss the tears and the laughter. I will miss sharing their successes and commiserating over their losses. Read more...



December 22, 2015

Cognitive Diary Training Example: Back-stabbing Doctor

The following is a two-part response which includes both this Cognitive Diary Training Example and a Passive-Aggressive Example.

EVENT: Colleague is passive-aggressive in front of the residents.

EMOTIONS: frustration, hurt, distress

DISTRESS RATING: 9--Feeling desperate

THOUGHTS: "A doctor I work with feels I am "too proud" and independent in my work. He dislikes my personality, and that's ok--we don't have to be buddies. But he has taken to telling each new group of residents that there is no point discussing anything with me because I am overbearing. He tells them they should just avoid discussion and agree with me. When I present an assessment in rounds he covers his eyes and bows his head. After he leaves, if I need to speak to one of the residents about a patient having problems, I can see them bracing themselves as I approach or rolling their eyes even though we may have never yet spoken to each other! I am viewed as a competant and compassionate doctor by families and co-workers, but this treatment is distracting and disheartening. It is making it difficult to provide safe care, to the point that I have considered leaving my practice.”

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE IRRATIONAL THINKING IN THIS EXAMPLE? There are at least 3 irrational beliefs.

HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THE THINKING? What is another way of thinking about the situation that won't cause the feelings of frustration, hurt, and distress?

TAP HERE FOR ANSWER



December 19, 2015

Passive-Aggressive Example: Back-stabbing Doctor

Question: A doctor I work with feels I am "too proud" and independent in my work. He dislikes my personality, and that's ok--we don't have to be buddies. But he has taken to telling each new group of residents that there is no point discussing anything with me because I am overbearing. He tells them they should just avoid discussion and agree with me. When I present an assessment in rounds he covers his eyes and bows his head. After he leaves, if I need to speak to one of the residents about a patient having problems, I can see them bracing themselves as I approach or rolling their eyes even though we may have never yet spoken to each other! I am viewed as a competant and compassionate doctor by families and co-workers, but this treatment is distracting and disheartening. It is making it difficult to provide safe care, to the point that I have considered leaving my practice.

TAP HERE FOR RESPONSE



December 12, 2015

Do You Understand Me? Conflict in Relationships

conflict No matter what, people will have conflict. Two people will never have the same exact needs as one another. One person is too hot; one person is too cold. One person likes Chinese food; one person likes Italian. One person spends more; one person is thrifty. Some differences may cause more conflict than others but differences always exists.

Why is it that conflict can cause serious problems in some relationships but does not seem to affect others? Researchers Gordon and Chen (2015) examined the quality of relationships based upon whether the partners felt understood by the other. They found that conflict is less likely to be harmful to a relationship when the partners feel understood. Read more...



December 10, 2015

Children Prefer Activity

active child When given the choice, children prefer being active. We worry about the problem of obesity and inactivity in children, yet it appears the problem has more to do with opportunity than with preference. Of course children like to play games, and if their only opportunity is to play sedentary, solitary games that is what they will play. However, when children, especially boys and normal-weight children, have the opportunity to play physically interactive games or similar non-physical games, they will choose the more active games (Sit, et al., 2010). Read more...



December 2, 2015

The Truth about Aging and Dieting

One good thing about aging is that older adults can stick to a diet better than younger adults. One of the more common causes of dieting failure is the use of food to regulate emotions. Older adults are better at managing emotional reactions and less likely to feel bad about themselves due to a diet failure. Instead of becoming discouraged by diet lapses and eating more they tend to control eating better. Instead of “I failed in my diet today. I'll start over tomorrow” they are more likely to think “I'll try to do better for the rest of the day.” Read more...



butterfly
Excellence vs Perfection Some people may be curious as to why this website is dedicated to the "pursuit of excellence" when I am constantly warning about the dangers of perfectionism.  To address this question we must differentiate between the pursuit of excellence and the need to be perfect.  These concepts are not only different but can be considered antagonistic to one another. In fact these concepts are so opposed to one another that  excellence can best be attained by giving up the demands of perfection.

What is Perfectionism?  Perfectionism is the individual's belief that he or she must be perfect to be acceptable. Perfectionism is black and white with no gray area. Anything other than perfect is failure. Perfectionism is an attitude, not necessarily a behavior. In other words, two people can engage in the same behavior such as trying to win an Olympic gold medal but one can be pursuing excellence and the other is demanding perfection. The difference lies in the thought process about the goal or behavior, not in the goal or behavior itself. Read more...


Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience? Listening to the weather forecast one frigid day, I realized how much we are influenced by the catastrophic thinking of the media.  The weatherman reported, "The weather has brought more misery to the St. Louis area."  Certainly, the weather was causing problems that day.  An ice storm caused car doors and locks to be frozen so that people had a great deal of trouble getting into their cars.  However, I thought, unless someone was in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone and they were unable to open their car door because of the ice, this was not "misery."  Instead, I would call it an "inconvenience."  Most of us walked out to our cars to find that we couldn't open the door, went back inside a warm house or office, and found some solution to our problem. Read more...


Happiness is an Attitude For many years when my husband and I were first together I would ask him "When are things going to get better?"  We were dealing with the usual stressors that couples face: not enough time, not enough money, and the inevitable random events such as family conflict, deaths of loved ones, illnesses and injuries.  In addition, for most of our early years together I was in school and struggling with the balancing of demands of advanced education, part-time work, and a family.  But I had the belief that we were working towards this perfect life that one day would emerge shining a rainbow of happiness forever over us. My husband, inclined more toward the practical, just answered my question of "When are things going to get better?," with "Another six months."  That answer typically pacified me for awhile because I thought I could handle any amount of stress for six months.  However, a point would occur when I once again I asked my husband "When are things going to get better?"  Once again, he would answer "Another six months."  This scenario occurred fairly routinely for many years.

However, fortunately during this time I had experiences that began to teach me about my expectations of life.  In particular, when I was completing my internship at the Veterans Administration Medical Center I had the opportunity to work on the spinal cord injury unit.  That experience forever changed my thinking.  In particular, I was struck by the differences in attitude among the patients. Read more...


Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight"I don't have any willpower."

"I'm weak."

"I'm lazy."

"I can't do it."

Do these statements sound familiar? Too often, our self-statements about weight management interfere with our efforts and lead to failure. By changing how we think about developing a healthy weight we are able to change the behaviors that can lead to success.

Not long ago I conducted a little experiment with my cardio-kickboxing class. After an intense class I told them to get the heaviest weights they could curl 8-10 times. I spent a minute telling them to focus on feeling tired, that they had just worked out hard and they couldn't do anymore. Then, they were to curl the weights to exhaustion. Once they finished, I spent another minute telling them to focus on having energy, feeling good, feeling refreshed, and knowing they could do more. Once again, they lifted the weights to exhaustion. The results were that out of nine people, only one did fewer lifts the second time! And typically, when someone lifts weights to exhaustion they should not be able to lift as much the second time when it is only a minute later. Although this was not a controlled scientific experiment, it was a demonstration to my class to show how powerful our thinking can be. What this exercise showed was how positive thinking overcame the natural exhaustion of the body and created a self-fulfilling prophecy of lifting more weight because the participants believed that they could. Read more...

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