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by Leonard Citron, M.A.
A batting average, in its simplest form, is the number of successful hits, divided by the number of attempts. Practise makes “perfect” but what happens when striving for perfection prevents us from practising?
Many children of baby boomers were brought up to believe that we can accomplish anything. While perhaps we are capable of great accomplishments if we put our mind to it, we, and the things we do, are not perfect.
“Perfection” is a prevalent theme throughout Western Culture. We believe that a perfect person never makes mistakes, always knows the right answer and is not flawed in any way, shape or form (best of luck finding them). When we fall short of this self-imposed goal we become fiercely hard on ourselves. Many avoid situations, riddled with anxiety, for fear of being seen as imperfect. We are paralysed by a fear of failure, consumed with concerns of how awful it would be if others saw our flaws.
by Kristene A. Doyle, Ph.D.
It’s almost 9 pm as I sit at my computer this evening. I am writing from a hotel room in Honduras, here to conduct a training on behalf of the Albert Ellis Institute. I am doing my best to answer some emails before I call it a night (this is called living it up when one goes to another country), and I happened to glance down at the lower right-hand corner of the computer screen. I notice the date, August 30, 2o12, and I am immediately struck with a sense of disbelief. Tomorrow, August 31, will mark the 21st anniversary of my father’s death (odd terminology to say anniversary connoting something positive). I’m sure everyone reading this has a similar date that stands out for them in their mind; something that no matter what, is indelible. I can recall to this day the sense of utter despair and gut wrenching emotion that took over me like a tsunami when I was told my father was killed in a car accident. I recall viscerally the sense that I would never, ever, ever be the same, and my life as I knew it was changed forever. All of that was true, and has proven to be true to this very day. But I was wrong about one thing. I believed at the time that my life would never go on, how could it? Continue reading
by Alina Boie, M.S.
There are certain memories in our lives that bring back strong emotions. Think about the first time you rode a bike, or the time you got your first pet or birthday present. How about your first kiss, first car or your first job? Do you remember what you felt then? Can you feel the happiness, or the anxiety, or surprise? How about the first day you went to school?
I think all of us have a special story about going to school. Most of us recall the excitement about the beginning at least. That eagerness to learn new things and discover new friends made most of us unable to sleep the night before our first day of school. Every year, thousands of kids around the world feel the same way you did. There is something magical about that first day. You always remember it because it is one of those special moments in your life.
Once you start school, you enter the thrilling world of knowledge. Soon enough you discover that the more knowledgeable you are the more you need to learn. School can be addictive you know. Maybe some of us disagree, but to a certain degree, school is like a drug. Only that people didn’t seem to find too many side effects from it. Otherwise, they would have invented SA, “Schoolaholic Anonymous” and started running therapy groups. Well, I should say that not all of us always liked school. I remember being in kindergarten and hating it. Continue reading
by Kristina Wilder, M.A.
Earlier this year I became an aunt. I’ve watched my sister-in-law work hard to make sure that she does the very best she can for my nephew. My nephew, who is adorable by the way, is not a good sleeper. He has never slept soundly, and has been unwilling to sleep away from my sister. For him to sleep, she either has to hold him or put him in a baby carrier close to her body. After all of her best efforts over the past six months to coax him to sleep independently and soundly, my nephew refuses to sleep. He will even kick in bed to keep himself awake. Now no one is sleeping, and everyone’s nerves are frayed. My sister did what many would do: she reached out for advice on what she could do to help the situation.
Instead of help, my sister received shame and downing from others. Some well-meaning people would say things like, “Oh, my son was like that for a week, just be patient and it will get better” – the potential message here being that she is lacking as a parent because she is not being patient. Other people have said that if she loved her son and met his needs better, he wouldn’t have the need to keep himself awake to receive her love and attention. So, now not only is my sister exhausted from lack of sleep, she’s now receiving shaming and downing messages from others. She is being told that she is simply not doing enough, and it will get better if she is just patient and loving enough. The truth of the situation is that we have no way of knowing if the situation will get better, if any additional effort or patience on her part will help my nephew sleep.
by Alina Boie, M.S.
That special time again… the Olympic Games. Every four years sports lovers around the world gather together to celebrate life through sport. It is astonishing how much effort (and money) is invested in organizing this gigantic event. However, countries that host it take pride by creating a unique and unforgettable experience.
Watching the athletes compete and strive for a gold medal always makes me think about things like endurance, persistence, ambition and nevertheless hard work. We are the ones who sit on our couch and admire the final product: an excellent floor routine, an amazing swimming competition, or a thrilling boxing game. Yet, behind these things that amaze us are endless hours of practice, commitment, desire and an incommensurable effort to achieve excellence.
Being a professional athlete does not only mean working hard but also having excellent coping mechanisms for stress and emotional endurance. These are the people who defeated procrastination and awfulizing and have increased frustration tolerance. Saying something like “It is too hard to train eight hours a day” or, “I shouldn’t have to work this hard. Things should be easier” does not bring you an Olympic medal. Continue reading
by Fabian Agiurgioaei, M.S.
We love to talk. We talk all the time: on the phone, to each other, we Tweet, we post comments on Facebook, we send e-mails, and some people speak even in their sleep.
Spoken language is probably the most human characteristic that separates us from other species, a wonderful asset that helps us communicate our feelings, express our love, bond with people, encourage others or express our gratitude. Nevertheless, words may easily become a dangerous device used to create emotional traps, confusion and suffering. Just remember the last time someone told you something that hurt! However, even more important is the way we talk to ourselves. Although people around us are not usually aware of our internal dialogue, it has a tremendous impact on how we think, feel and behave in our everyday life.
According to the REBT principles, awareness of the internal dialogue represents a cornerstone of the emotional wellbeing and a “must-have” in the change process. For example, remember a recent situation when you made yourself feel very depressed or very angry! For example, that time when you were not invited to a party, or when someone pushed you in the subway. Continue reading
by Leonard Citron, M.A.
Social media broadcasts a broad and deep data stream that permeates all aspects of our lives; balancing our online avatars with our authentic selves is part of the modern age. Sometimes, however, our online interactions become a tool to seek validation – it is then important that we proactively make a distinction between our digital and analog selves, and unplug and recalibrate.
Often at dinner parties the conversation turns to online dating, as we outdo one another with horror (and occasionally success) stories that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Sex and the City episode. Regardless of your ethnicity, fetish, hobbies, sexual orientation, religion, or even pet type, there are sites dedicated to helping us find the “one”. Whether it’s the “one” for forever or the “one” for an hour, these sites are booming and we’re their loyal followers.
Much like the game of roulette, we never know if our next spin could bring us great fortune. It is this hope of a positive result that keeps us spinning that wheel: inconsistent positives, the same that drive the gambler to keep playing, make online dating so addictive.
by Rebecca Eliason, M.S.
A friend of mine was recently telling me stories about how “absolutely nuts” her husbands’ parents make her. She tells me that she cannot stand how her in-laws are constantly interfering in her life. She is living a daughter-in-law’s nightmare. They are opinionated, and ALWAYS share those opinions, even without an invitation. They tell her how to raise her children, push her to break her kids bedtimes so they can visit, and always want her to bring her family to their house, so that they can spend time with their grandchildren. They do not seem to realize that she is involved in other activities and has commitments in her life that do not include tending to her in-laws needs. She told me that she has tried everything, but that she cannot get her mother-in-law to stop asking invasive questions and making ridiculous demands. Furthermore, she gets annoyed and tells her husband that she can’t stand his mother and everything she does, which usually causes an argument between the spouses.
Prior Attempts to Fix the Problem: My dear friend has tried many different ways to change her mother-in-law’s behavior. She has invited her in-laws to her house so she and her children do not need to travel, she has tried to schedule dinners earlier so that the kids can still go to sleep on time, as well as many other solutions. They have all been to no avail and she still ends up angry after each encounter with her mother-in-law.
by Malek Mneimne, M.A.
Today is my 30th birthday. The “big 3-0.” When I was younger, I looked forward to the day when I’d be 30 years old with excitement. Now, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it, if anything. It means getting older and having less time to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself. The end of a chapter and the start of a new one.
As I think about turning 30, I think of years past and where I want to be in 5-10 years. I think of the goals I have wanted and want to accomplish in life, and whether I’m heading in those directions. I think of similar-aged, married friends with children, careers, and/or mortgages and wonder if the extra years of schooling I decided upon will be worth the cost. I wonder if I’ll be happy in 5-10 years if I do indeed reach those goals on some level.