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Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

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

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Depression is Not Sadness

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

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PsychNotes February 2016
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist

Index        Previous        Next
February 24, 2016

Mindfulness is Simply Being Without Judgment

Mindfulness is often presented by myself and others as “being present in the moment.” However, I find that isn't a satisfactory description because we can be present when thinking about the future or the past as well. In other words, we can mindfully anticipate the future and set goals as well as mindfully evaluate the past. So, what is it that a mindful focus on the present, future, or past has in common? I believe the commonality is the lack of judgment.

For instance, I woke up this morning with my cat sniffing my face which made me think about how animals don't judge our breath. To them, how our breath smells simply is what it is which is part of all kinds of smells we emit. My cat didn't recoil at my morning breath but just included it as part of what it knows about me. What it knows about me is based upon past experiences and it can also anticipate future experiences with me (such as I'm the one to ask for food). All of this is without judging whether I smell good or bad or whether I am a good or bad person. I just am who I am as far as my cat is concerned. Read more...

February 18, 2016

Passive-Aggressive Example: Deliberate Annoyances Followed by Denial

Question: I like to have an egg with a piece of toast and jelly for breakfast. This morning while cooking a couple eggs in my egg cooker I put a piece of bread in the toaster. After a while I thought my toast was taking more time than usual. I opened the toaster and found my toast almost burnt. Upon inspection, I saw the time had been turned up. She hadn't used that toaster for quite awhile. I have, so I know she must've turned it up. I didn't confront her because I have found out that's the reward she wants. When I react she gets to argue with me and first thing I know she's blaming me, turning the conversation towards me, telling me I'm getting senile or I'm crazy. Sometimes I almost believe her. It's enough to make you crazy. She's been doing this all our marriage and I just became aware of PA behavior recently. It's an every day occurance. If she gets mad at me, I start keeping an eye open for what she's going to do to get even. The things she does are not damaging, but are things I've asked her not to do. I get frustrated because I know she does it on purpose. If I confront her she says, "What did I do? I didn't do that. Your losing it!" If I say anything more, it becomes a loud argument and then she blames me for something totally different. I cannot outargue her.


February 15, 2016

Not Happy? Just Wait...

Life satisfaction and happiness tends to increase from the late teens through the late 30s (Galambos, et al., 2015). Such a statement tends to go against the generally held belief that people are happier in their youth. In fact, even previous research tended to show that happiness decreased from late adolescence through mid-adulthood.

Why are the results different for this study? And why should this study be believed to be more accurate? Because this study shows the importance of not relying upon memory when asking about past happiness. Frequently, people's memories are distorted, and therefore, not reliable. Instead of asking people about the past, this research followed a group of people over a period of 15-20 years periodically asking them about the present. Read more...

February 13, 2016

Rule 16: Balance Life with Balance

Rule 16: Balance Life with Balance Frequently we hear about the importance of balancing our lives. Such advice seems to be the holy grail of modern life: if you are stressed, find balance. However, this quest for balance often creates a paradox. Specifically, if a person relentlessly pursues balance in all things, imbalance is created. When the concept of balance becomes a demand, “I must be balanced,” it instead creates stress because you become focused on the lack of balance in your life. When you try to achieve balance in all aspects of your life, imbalance occurs because you are using the concept of balance to the extreme.

So, what exactly IS meant by balance?

A balanced life is navigating that path of being overwhelmed with stress and avoiding stress completely. Stress has a purpose (as we will discuss). However, stress needs to be kept in check. Read more...

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?


February 2, 2016

The Purpose of “Normal” Low Self-Esteem

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...

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Dr. Monica Frank

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