Exposure to certain pathogens when you're young can help build immunity to them in later life. It's the same thing with mental health – exposure to feared situations and to discomfort in general will build up your immunity to those same forces. Put differently, too much safety can be dangerous; the biggest risk you can take is to try and live a risk-free life.
"I must always feel completely in love with my partner, or else he is not 'the one'"; "I noticed another attractive person so I must not love my partner"; "I often get angry with my partner so I must not love him"; "Other couples are happy all the time".
All-or-nothing thinking, catastrophising, hyper-responsibility, excessive 'should' statements – my latest column explores thinking errors often seen in cases of relationship OCD (ROCD).
What if I don’t really love my partner? What if my partner doesn't really love me? Is s/he "the one"? What if I am not as attracted to my partner as I should be? Would I be better off with someone else? Would s/he be better off with someone else? What if my partner doesn't know me well enough and realises too late I am not the person s/he thought I was?
This column explores relationship OCD, or ROCD, which is characterised by agonising doubts and uncertainty about your relationship.
Good mental health requires that you be both self-compassionate and honest with yourself. The latter point is important because as humans, we are gifted when it comes to codding ourselves. We often rationalise our behaviour and tell ourselves that we’re being “gentle” and “kind” with ourselves when we’re really being avoidant and fearful. My latest column gives some hypothetical examples and explains why it's so important to be honest with ourselves.
‘Anyone else feeling just a little overwhelmed at the prospect of all this additional out and aboutness – even though we’ve been yearning for it?’
Journalist Alison O’Connor posed this question on Twitter recently. Back-to-normal hesitancy, re-entry anxiety – call it what you will, but there are many reasons why people may be feeling a little anxious right now.
"I’m useless", "People are selfish", "People can't be trusted" – my last column described how harmful core beliefs tend to be over-generalised statements about ourselves, others and the world. Negative core beliefs are invariably self-defeating; how can they be changed?
As children, we all develop certain ideas about ourselves, about others, about the world. These core beliefs can profoundly shape our lives – sometimes for the better (if you have positive core beliefs), sometimes for the worse (if you have negative core beliefs). Negative core beliefs are overgeneralised, rigid and prejudiced. They are not true. So why do they feel so true?
I’m often struck by the bile and verbal abuse on social media, particularly Twitter. In normal life, people tend to be respectful of acquaintances who don’t share their opinions. The online world is less polite in this respect. Venting on social media can be an outlet for your frustrations, but you should resist the urge to do so – black-and-white, hyper-critical thinking can become a bad habit, hurting your mood and relationships.
Sometimes, you can get away with bad decisions – for example, a drunk driver not crashing on their way back from the pub – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bad decision. Similarly, you can be unlucky; good decisions can lead to unforeseen outcomes. My latest Southern Star column talks about outcome bias, and how it can lead to unnecessary regret, rumination and self-criticism.
Brewing fresh coffee before the morning chores, cosying up with a hot water bottle as you settle into your Saturday night movie, changing into lounge clothing after turning off the laptop - we all have our own little rituals. My latest Southern Star column explores how rituals can enrich experience and create meaning.