2020 · 25. June 2020
All is well written in sand.
Do you frequently try to manage your worries by seeking reassurance? It's human to want a little reassurance when times are tough, but excessive reassurance-seeking doesn't help you manage anxiety – it perpetuates and worsens it. This article explains why and offers advice on how to kick the reassurance habit.
2020 · 04. June 2020
Let's say you make a mistake or hear disappointing news. How do you talk to yourself in these situations? For many people, negative and punishing self-talk can become a bad habit. You may not even notice how much you berate yourself. My latest column explores some really good advice from Irish writer Maria Hoey on this important subject.
2020 · 21. May 2020
Car crash.
Think of a loved one. If I asked you to write down and read out the following sentence – "I hope (name of your loved one) dies today in a car crash" – would you do it? This 'test' was originally designed for use with people with OCD, but most people (not just people with OCD) feel icky about it. My latest Southern Star column explores what's known as thought-action fusion and suggests that most of us are prone to taking our thoughts and feelings too seriously.
2020 · 07. May 2020
Running in mud.
‘As human beings, we are all “stuck in the mud-hole.” We are all slogging through the “muck,” we are all equally dirty, and we all “stink,” but we give meaning to our lives by pursuing our goals and overcoming challenges.’ Dr Steven Phillipson is a celebrated psychologist today, but as a child he felt inferior and ashamed. My latest column explores how nobody has it easy in life and why we are, as Dr Phillipson says, 'all in the mud-hole together’.
2020 · 23. April 2020
Sexual harassment at work.
Imagine you're in a job interview. Your interviewer is a man in his mid-30s and you're alone in the room with him. The interview begins normally but he then asks: Do you have a boyfriend? Do people find you desirable? Do you think it's important for women to wear bras to work? Now, some questions for readers: How would you would feel in this situation? How would you respond to the interviewer? My latest column explores why we're not good at forecasting how we will act in a stressful situation.
2020 · 09. April 2020
X mark denoting unacceptable standards.
Many people say self-criticism keeps them on their toes and helps them achieve their goals. However, critical self-talk is linked to multiple mental health problems. Research shows that if you want to motivate yourself to 'do better', self-compassion beats self-criticism. When you see mistakes as human and inevitable, I argued in last week's Southern Star, you are more likely to accept and learn from them.
2020 · 26. March 2020
Coronavirus woman wearing mask.
These are anxious times. In last week's Southern Star, I offered some advice on how to manage anxiety over the coronavirus.
2020 · 05. March 2020
Animal phobias – of dogs, cats, spiders, and so on – are common in children and sometimes persist into adulthood. My column in last week's Southern Star explained the CBT treatment of animal phobias; how the bulk of this work is done in a single extended exposure session lasting up to three hours; and mentioned some reading for people interested in trying a DIY approach.
2020 · 20. February 2020
Sad woman in forest.
When life is good, you’re more optimistic, more confident, more open to trying new things. But when you’re down, you’re more pessimistic, less confident, less open to actions that might ease your plight. In last week's Southern Star, I explained how a vicious circle is at the heart of most emotional problems and how, through effort and awareness, you can turn that unhelpful, vicious circle into a helpful, virtuous circle.
2020 · 06. February 2020
Denial is a common thing. It's common in dysfunctional families, where problems get swept under the carpet. It's common in relationships; often, people turn a blind eye to problems for years until they became too big to ignore. These are obvious examples, but denial can also resemble what Dr Jonathan Grayson calls a wishing ritual, where you keep comparing reality to fantasy. ‘Reality may not be as pretty as fantasy', says Grayson, 'but it is far better than the misery of wishing'.

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