Perfectionism is sometimes seen as a positive trait, but the reality is the psychological downsides to perfectionism can be very grave indeed. In the first of a three-part series, I explain what underpins perfectionism and why it drives and maintains unhappiness and pain.
"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?
Dr Marsha Linehan, who founded DBT and is one of the most celebrated psychologists in the world today, spent two years in a psychiatric hospital when she was 17. Marsha eventually found a way out of her own personal hell and resolved to ‘help people find the path to getting out of hell’ themselves. In this column, I explore Marsha's invalidating relationship with her mother, her intense self-loathing, and her advice for people who hate themselves and who try to be someone they're not.
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.
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.
Humiliation is a very intense emotion. Few experiences – even the loss of a loved one – can surpass the psychological damage caused by humiliating events, as I cautioned in last week's Southern Star. The column is reproduced below. You might be aggrieved with someone – your partner, child, co-worker, whoever – and want to “teach them a lesson”, to “take them down a peg or two”, to “put them in their place”. Don’t – any act that aims to humiliate is dangerously misguided....
People tend to think that life goes downhill as you age, but the research shows the opposite is true: lifetime happiness tends to be U-shaped, with most people getting happier as they get older. Why? My column in the January 26 edition of The Southern Star discussed this important subject, and is reproduced below. As you get older, your looks fade. Mentally, you become less sharp and your memory declines. Your physical health suffers. And you get happier. Well, not everyone gets happier as they...