All posts filed under: Mental Health

Relationships and Rejection: A Letter to Your Broken Heart

Right now, the words “moving on” feel unbearably heavy. Right now, words that are meant to encourage you seem to never land, sliding off the cold shield that is your pain. “If that is true, then why did they leave?” Right now, the concept of “finding someone else” feels like a hopeless endeavor in which you want no part. “I didn’t want someone else; I wanted them.” And now that they are gone, you want to forget them, but a cruel tether of nostalgia pulls you back to feelings that you don’t wish to feel. Right now, what hurts the most is the fact that you let them see you; you let yourself be really, truly seen. You gave them the best you had to give, all you had to offer, and that makes the sting of goodbye so much worse. Worse because that sense of safety is betrayed, and worse because it feels like your best was not enough.  Right now feels so powerful, so immeasurable and weighty that it seems as though your …

Confidence in Competence: The Second Basic Psychological Need

This is the third post of a four part series which summarizes crucial research findings about what causes most people to feel unhappy, dissatisfied, and unmotivated in different areas of their lives. As discussed in this series’ first post, there is robust research support for the notion that there are three psychological needs that humans have which, if unmet, prevent them from being happy and fulfilled. The first of these three needs is autonomy, which was discussed in this post. Today, we’re talking about competence, which is the second of these three most important psychological needs. Several years ago in my first developmental psychology class, the professor said something that stuck with me. He said that, for children who suffer from an abusive or otherwise unhappy home life, being good at something is a saving grace. Picture a kid who grew up in poverty and was raised by a single mother who dated a series of aggressive men. If this child felt really confident in their ability to do well in school, or sports, or …

Comparison and Contentment

In a time where we are preoccupied with maintaining appearances both online and in-person, we go through our days managing the impressions we make on other people. We wear clothes we think strangers will approve of, we post pictures we think will accrue the most “likes,” all the while running from the feeling that we’re doing it all wrong. At the end of the day, we pour over the profiles of beautiful people with impressive resumes, comparing our messy life and stained pajamas with that carefully curated picture. We know it’s not real: that the beautiful smiles of airbrushed influencers or the perfect home of that mommy-blogger are not real life. We know that everyone posts their shiny moments, the ones where they look brave, the ones where the dirt is swept beneath the rug, and demons safely locked away. We know that we are comparing our worst moments to other’s highlight reels, and yet, we still set down our phones with the heavy feeling that we are inferior, that we are not enough. The …

Tricking Your Brain into a Happier Life: The Power of Selective Attention

As we go through our daily lives, we are bombarded with a sea of new sensory input. Scientists have discussed how, in a given moment, there are thousands of sights, sounds and ideas our brains have to sift through to decide what’s important. So, in any moment, what we actually, see, hear, and think about is simply what our brains decided was worth our time. What does this have to do with anxiety, mental health, and happiness? Glad you asked. Selective Attention: The Problem What our brains tells us to pay attention to dictates the information we have about our world. Importantly, the information that our brain believes to be relevant is determined by our own beliefs. Here’s an example: I’m terrified of spiders. Fortunately (and unfortunately), I also possess a super-human ability to notice even the tiniest or most well-hidden spider. Why is this the case? Well, because my fear of spiders has told my brain that any information pertaining to spiders is something that the boss-lady (a.k.a. me) is probably going to want …

Self-Worth: What the Research Has to Say

Psychologists are really interested in what they call “contingencies of self-worth.” This is the idea that our assessments of our own worth depend on things around us that fluctuate: we may feel worthy when people give us praise, when we get a good grade or a promotion, or when we have a productive day. Conversely, we may feel unworthy when we receive criticism, a poor grade, or when we aren’t as productive. The point is, when our worth is tied things in our daily lives that are inconsistent, we are left in a perilous state which wreaks havoc on our well-being. Below are some summaries of recent research findings about self-worth, and what you can do to start grounding your self-esteem in something more consistent. Finding #1: When students’ self-esteem is tied to their academic performance, they tend to be more depressed. Crocker and colleagues (2003) investigated these “contingencies of self-worth” and found that students tend to feel better about themselves on days they get good grades and worse about themselves on day they get …

Journaling Series for When You’re Worrying About What People Think

Any of my fellow people-pleasers out there?? I am a total people-pleaser, and also kind of a perfectionist. So, naturally, that means that I want people to think I’m …perfect. Unfortunately, I, like the rest of us, am not. So, when I inevitably make mistakes, it can be really easy to jump to some pretty critical (not to mention irrational) ways of thinking about myself. And the funny thing is, what I believe others are thinking about me is almost never accurate. Oh, the irony of anxiety. Below is a series of journal prompts I developed for times when we are really caught up in fears about what people think. These prompts were designed to be answered in a series to help us move from a place of worry to a place of understanding, hope, and rationality. Try it out and let me know what you think! Journal Prompts for When You’re Worried About What Others Think Right now, I find myself worrying that people think I’m . . . (e.g., stupid, socially awkward, lazy …

5 Minute Mindfulness: Leaves on a Stream Visualization

If you haven’t read my first post describing what mindfulness is, I suggest reading it before playing the recording below. Below is an audio clip I made of one of my favorite mindfulness visualization exercises called, “Leaves on a Stream.” This exercise is designed to help individuals who struggle with racing thoughts, negative self-talk, anxiety, etc. It helps us practice not giving weight or power to the thoughts we have, but rather act as a non-judgmental observer of these thoughts. This exercise involves a high amount of visualization, so if that’s not a strong-suit for you, it might not be as impactful. If that’s you, I will be posting other mindfulness audios that are a less visualization-heavy, so stay tuned. 🙂 Give it a try, and let me know what you think!