Thoughts are just thoughts, not facts. Unfortunately, we often over-identify and fuse with our thoughts – and that can be a real problem when the thoughts are negative and punitive. For example, you might react to the thought “I’m useless” as if you are really useless, making you feel sad and hopeless. In this column, I give some tips on how to casually defuse from negative thoughts.
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.