Psychology Tip of the Week #3: Beware of Mind Reading

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In Psychology Tip of the Week #2 I mentioned that “it can feel like proof that I’m bugging people” if anyone unsubscribes after receiving my blog posts. I chose these words carefully because, while it “can” feel that way, it doesn’t have to. The fact is, I don’t know why any given person might choose to unsubscribe, and while it is possible that some people feel “bugged,” others likely have other reasons.

It can be easy to read intentions into other people’s behavior, but it’s also a common thinking error that tends to make us feel bad without good reason. It’s called “mind reading.” When we engage in mind reading, we often assume whatever we fear is true. If someone doesn’t return a text, for example, it can be easy to think that person is mad at you and feel anxious, or that they’re being rude and feel mad, or that they don’t want to be friends anymore and feel sad. If you tend to be anxious, you may often assume people don’t like you or are mad at you.

This week, catch yourself making assumptions about what other people are thinking and see if there may be an alternative explanation.

Psychology Tip of the Week #2: Face a Fear

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After deciding to give your inboxes a little break , I’m back with psychology tip of the week #2. Turns out there was some kind of technical glitch that resulted in tip #1 being sent out 5 times in a week. Yikes! Here’s hoping the glitch has been fixed! In the spirit of making the most of what life brings, this week’s tip was inspired by the that glitch.

I have a confession to make. I feel anxious every time I post or send out a newsletter. I worry that I might inadvertently say something that would put people off or that I’m bugging people, and whenever someone unsubscribes, it can seem like proof that those worries are true.

Enter Psychology Tip of the Week #2: Face your fears. Avoidance increases anxiety while facing fears decreases them. I feel a little less anxious each time I send out a new post. The more regularly I post, the better. The longer I wait, the more the anxiety creeps back in. That glitch forced me to face my anxiety about bugging people head-on and my worst-case fears did not come true. This week, challenge your worry thoughts by facing something you feel anxious about.

Psychology Tip of the Week

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Our minds are more powerful than most of us give them credit for. One of the most amazing things about our minds is how our thoughts can not only influence our feelings and interactions with the world, but physically change the structure of our brains! Even seemingly small shifts in the way we think or act can lead to significant improvement in our wellbeing and satisfaction with life. Introducing “Psychology tip of the week.” Each tip is designed to give you something small to work on to improve your quality of life. I encourage you to treat each one as an experiment—try it out for a week and see how it feels, then continue using the ones that work best for you.

Tip 1: “What ifs” cause anxiety that can rob today of its joy over fear of something potentially bad (that may or may not actually happen) in the future. In some cases, this fear feels worse than it would feel if the “bad” thing actually happened. This week, try focusing on “what is” instead of “what if…?”


Coping with the emotions of Harvey—practicing what I preach

Few things are more stressful than natural disasters. They are unpredictable, often happen with little notice or time for preparation, and feel completely out of our control. For this reason, I often use the “hurricane example” when teaching stress management techniques—particularly the importance of differentiating what you can and cannot control, making a plan to control what you can, and coping with the emotions of what you can’t.

Anxiety in Youth

Anxiety in Youth

It seems that today’s children are experiencing problems with anxiety much more than children in the past. Anxiety can zap the joy from childhood and set children up for continued emotional difficulty in the future.

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

I've never met a single person who could not benefit from the knowledge of a psychologist at some point. Does that mean I think everyone is mentally ill? Not even close. Does it mean I think everyone needs to see a psychologist? Not necessarily.

Psychology Tip of the Day: Unplug your TV to unwind

Watching television may seem like a good way to relax, but it may actually have a negative impact on your physical and psychological health. Try rating your mood before and after watching television. Compare this to your mood before and after engaging in other relaxing activities, such as reading, talking to friends, taking a walk, or taking a bath. How does the effect of watching television compare to these other activities?