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PsychNotes March 2017
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist

Index        Previous        Next
March 17, 2017

In Praise of Specific Praise

Many know how to flatter, few know how to praise. Wendell Phillips
Most people know the value of praise, but few people provide it effectively. Providing specific praise can enhance performance and productivity at work. It can improve the quality of personal relationships. It can teach children how to navigate life successfully.

“Great job!” or “I liked your presentation” may be easy praise to give but it is not as effective as specific praise. Instead, “You really helped the team by providing those statistics for the presentation” is more likely to make an impact. A person receiving such praise will not only know their work was appreciated but will know that they were noticed—it's not just empty flattery. Read more...


March 15, 2017

Why Are People Mean? When You Love a Narcissist

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. T.S. Eliot
When you love a narcissist, you can't compete with their first love—themselves. The constant need for admiration and attention can fatigue even the heartiest of souls. However, that is not the biggest problem for those who are in love with a narcissist.

The most serious issue for relationships is that a narcissist can be quite hurtful due to their lack of empathy and indifference to other people's concerns, needs, or wishes. As a result, they often come across as “mean” people. Not that they intend to hurt others—they just find themselves and their desires or interests more important.

T.S. Eiott said it well:
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
Read more...


March 10, 2017

Don't Assume You Know What Others Are Thinking and Feeling

Each One Of Us Sees In Others What We Carry In Our Own Hearts Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is hard not to project your thoughts and feelings on to other people. I find myself doing it even with my cats: “Beef doesn't seem appetizing to me in the morning so I'm going to feed you the chicken.” What does how I feel about what I eat have to do with my cats' food? Nothing. But, if you buy food for a pet, have you noticed all the choices? Cats are carnivores so why do they create food with carrots and rice in it? Because it sounds good to the human: “'White chicken with carrots in gravy'—oh, yum, a nice chicken stew, I think my cats would enjoy that.”

Or, how about mothers instructing their children “Put on a coat” because the mother feels cold and assumes the child will be cold, too? “Don't argue with me! Just put on a coat.” Read more...


March 6, 2017

Why Dieting May Be Painful and What You Can Do About It

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. Virginia Woolf
It's commonly known that many people tend to eat when stressed. How often do you see a movie or TV show and someone reaches for a carton of ice cream when dealing with a distressing situation? For some people, stressed eating may create a disordered relationship with food which becomes difficult to reverse. Why is that?

Why does stress make it difficult to lose weight?

One answer may have to do with the experience of pain. Researchers found that when healthy people fast for 24 hours their sensitivity to pain increases (Pollatos et al., 2012). Although this study examined fasting, some people may be even more sensitive to the pains of hunger and experience increased pain with minor deprivation. Read more...


March 2, 2017

Do Not Go Gentle: Mental Decline and Aging

Do not go gentle into that good night Dylan Thomas
As people age, a primary fear is the loss of mental capacity. Most people eventually come to terms with the physical decline in health and abilities. But mental decline causes greater isolation and feelings of loneliness because mental abilities are our lifeline of connection to others. So, finding ways to reduce mental decline is an important factor in improving well-being as we age.

Although previous research has shown that elderly who engage in social activity show less mental decline, the key may not be the social interaction itself. It was thought that social contact provided emotional support reducing stress that can affect mental abilities. Or, that socially engaged people often participate in mentally challenging activities, such as card games, keeping the mind active.

However, reducing mental decline as we age is more complex than that and is impacted by several factors: Read more...

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