End Procrastination for Good: How to Revise Your Life Script

If you weren’t conflicted about doing something, you’d do it, right? The problem is that much of the time, as regards tackling a task or pursuing a project, you’re of two separate minds. One part of you knows it should be done and is ready to do it. The other part, and for any number of reasons—eight of which I’ll enumerate below—doggedly resists your best efforts.

What Does Donald Duck Have To Do With Anger Control?

Anyone who’s watched old Disney cartoons knows that Donald Duck is all-too-easily provoked to fits of temper. And perhaps what stands out most about Donald’s squawking tantrums is how ludicrous they make him appear. In fact, the angrier he gets, the more impossible it is to take him seriously.

8 Situations When You Should Keep Your Mouth Shut

There are many situations where it’s extremely difficult not to respond, especially when someone has just pushed your buttons. But in tense, problematic circumstances it never makes much sense to respond—or better, react—impulsively. What’s needed is a moment to reflect on whether your instant reaction, if expressed, will make things better…or, more likely, worse.

Can Your Body Express Multiple Emotions Simultaneously?

All feelings–vs. thoughts–have a certain physiology to them. You cannot experience an emotion without at the same time experiencing a corresponding bodily sensation (or sensations). And each of your emotions resides in a particular place(s) in your body–their “native home,” as it were. Unless you feel an emotion so intense and overpowering that it’s all over your body

Can You Feel Two Emotions at Once?

Have you ever felt happy and sad at the same time? Or experienced an emotion as bittersweet? Or had feelings so mixed that you were compelled to vacillate between two courses of action—or reaction? If you can relate to any of these possibilities, this piece should help you better understand those times when you're feeling uncertain, confused, or ambivalent.

Contemplating Infinity: 6 Sets of Illuminating Quotes

The physical—and metaphysical—topic of infinity can be reflected upon in various ways. Yet, in examining a multitude of quotes on this most fascinating subject, I discovered a delimited number of themes. And regardless of how divergent some of the quotes below might seem, my main criterion for including them was that they be intellectually or emotionally stimulating,

Inside Every Introvert Is...an Extrovert

Many people would view my title as oxymoronic—as in, “Introverts can be charismatic?! Really?” But that’s only because in our predominantly extroverted culture, there seems to be a not-so-hidden bias against inward personalities. Yet not possessing the more sociable qualities of an extrovert hardly means they lack the essential components that make people charismatic.

The Rarely Recognized Upside of Anger

I’ve published so much on anger’s toxicity that it may seem odd that I now feel the need to write something far more positive about the emotion. Not that I don’t continue to see anger as in most respects hazardous—to your relationships, as well as your physical and mental health. But there’s one aspect of anger that, at least in certain contexts, makes it invaluable.

Every Couple's Key to Peace

In employing the term “understanding” here, I’m not referring to some impersonal, objective comprehension of your partner's viewpoint. Rather, it’s used to signify an empathic, open-hearted appreciation of where they're coming from. And such a humane understanding can make all the difference in your relationship, regardless of how much you actually agree with each other.

The Vampire’s Bite: Victims of Narcissists Speak Out

Because narcissists don’t think or feel like we do, it’s really not possible to establish a mutual relationship with them. And because we can hardly help but expect them to respond in ways similar to our own, their dissimilar reactions can confuse and surprise us--at times, deeply upset us as well. . . .

9 Enlightening Quotes on Narcissists—and Why

Whether as a character trait or a full-fledged personality disorder, the nature of narcissism just teems with irony and paradox. Take, for example, this ambiguous quote that, without explanation, may well seem baffling: “I thought narcissism was about self-love till someone told me there is a flip side to it. . . . It is unrequited self-love.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Emotional Ventilation

This post complements my earlier piece, “The 12 Virtues, and Vices, of Venting.” In that post I suggested it might not be very prudent to air out your frustrations directly to the person who caused them. Here I’ll elaborate on this notion while suggesting—if such ventilation is necessary and potentially beneficial—just how to most effectively confront your "provocateur."

6 Virtues, and 6 Vices, of Venting

Any scrupulous appraisal of airing out your frustrations with others must conclude that its value—practically as well as ethically—is somewhat ambiguous. Undeniably, emotional ventilation has many positive features. But just as indisputably, such venting has its negative aspects as well.

Unconditional Love is Possible—But Only From Yourself

I’ve long contended that to have a conflict-free relationship, what’s necessary is to create a clone of yourself (though if you’re “straight,” one that’s gender-opposite). And then, of course, marry that clone. But, at least for the foreseeable future, such technology isn’t yet available...

The Downside of Compassion

In deciding how to act, you have every right to give top priority to your own welfare. But assuming you're a caring, considerate person, if your rightful behavior causes pain to another, you're likely to experience some very distressful feelings…

Between Therapist and Client: The Great Divide

For clients, perhaps the single, most valuable function of therapy is the unprecedented freedom of expression it allows them. Assuming that the therapist is competent, clients have full license to share themselves without fear of criticism or negative judgment. In stark contrast, therapists themselves are governed by an enormous number of constraints.

How Fair Is Your Marriage?

What—or who—determines whether or not a marriage is fair? The simple, though perhaps surprising, answer is that finally it’s what any particular couple agrees on is fair. But much of the time partners’ subjective assessment of relational fairness is that it’s not really that equitable at all...

What If Your Ambivalence Can’t Be Resolved?

There’s a common belief that with the right mind set virtually all conflicts are resolvable. But in many instances, making such an assumption is simply unrealistic: a fiction, a fantasy. As a therapist, over the years I’ve encountered many situations in which a client was struggling mightily with ambivalence. And no simple resolution to their dilemma existed.

Don’t Confuse Revenge With Justice: Five Key Differences

The terms revenge and justice often get muddled. And that’s hardly surprising, for in the course of history they’ve frequently been used interchangeably. As meanings alter and evolve over time, the connotations of these two words have increasingly diverged.

Five Biggest Problems With Revenge and Its Best Remedies

This post will lay out the reasons that—both ethically and pragmatically—your viewpoint on revenge should be decidedly negative. I’ll back up my own unfavorable perspective on this all-too-frequent phenomenon by including a large variety of quotes that, to me, represent the wisest, most incisive thinking on the subject.

What If You Hate What You’re Good At?

It may seem counter-intuitive that you could be highly skilled at something, yet actually loathe it. Most of the time if you really dislike some subject, process, or activity, it’s because you’re not particularly adept at it. But it’s hardly uncommon to detest (or come to detest) what you excel at…

Praise as Manipulation: 6 Reasons to Question Compliments

As long as another’s praise doesn’t sound patently insincere, you’re likely to welcome it. Being richly recognized for what you do—or who you are—just feels good. It’s wonderfully confirming, as reassuring as it is validating. But praise has its dark side, too. . . .

The Anger Thermostat: What's the Temperature of Your Upset?

Sometimes just thinking about your anger can help you to regulate it and keep it from escalating. Additionally, assessing the intensity of your negative emotional arousal can assist you in determining how best to lower it--unless, that is, you can't resist the self-validating sense of righteousness (or adrenaline rush) you get from this most fiery of emotions.

The Intriguing Upside of Manipulation

In an earlier post for PT I considered the legitimacy of using manipulative tactics if they were executed for another’s welfare. Just recently, I felt obliged to take note of an elaborate response to this piece. For of all the many comments I’d received on my more than 200 posts, I saw this one as perhaps the most originative--not to say, the most cunning and pragmatic.

The Real Reason Why Couples Use Baby Talk

It's been said that “the very essence of romance is uncertainty.” Assuming that this curious perspective is on target, what might be some of the most effective ways that lovers reduce their doubts—even though, ironically, such doubts might be intrinsic to their romance? What might help enamored partners assure themselves they were every bit as loved as they were loving?

Can Your Therapist Be Your Friend?

Though so-called “dual relationships” are typically frowned upon by the mental health community, most therapy clients require a close, trusted friend almost as much as they do a therapist. So how can such a professional—ethically and practically—function simultaneously in both roles?

What Should You Do When Your Judgment Is Impaired?

There’s a supreme irony here. If your judgment is temporarily impaired, then—now afflicted with such a deficit—how could you possibly know it was impaired? And realistically, how could you even be expected to act prudently in a state where cautiousness or circumspection may totally elude you?

6 Signs of Narcissism You May Not Know About

Pathological narcissists project onto others traits and behaviors they can’t, or won’t, accept in themselves. Because they’re compelled to conceal deficits or weaknesses in their self-image, they habitually redirect any unfavorable appraisal of themselves outwards—unconsciously trusting that doing so will forever keep at bay their deepest self-doubts.

Is There Something Unethical About Beauty?

The people we identify as truly beautiful represent such a small minority, such a marked deviation from the mean, that we might legitimately view them as “aberrations.” So just why are matters of physical attractiveness so important? Simply because beautiful people—purely through happenstance—have all sorts of built-in advantages that most of us can never lay claim to.

How Do You Know What's Good Enough?

How can you tell whether what you’ve done is good enough? Or what would make it good enough for you? Doubtless, personal standards come into play here. But where do these standards originate? Did you unwittingly absorb your parents’ unrealistically high requirements of you as a child? Or are your “good enough” criteria aligned with your deepest beliefs and ideals?