LA Psychology ~ Los Angeles Psychological Services

Fixing It

Fixing It

By trying to “fix” our suffering, pain and anxiety we often inadvertently prolong them. Trying to fix anxiety and pain rather than facing them can actually take us farther from healing. Suffering is inevitable; it’s a part of life and being human. When you accept it, it becomes an opportunity.

The fact that we can grow and learn from suffering does not make it less painful. However, it does mean we can bounce back faster. It means we can move on rather than creating a useless diversion from the task at hand. Focusing on fixing pain is an ineffective strategy that compounds the very pain it attempts to avoid.

When you feel and face the pain and suffering you are no longer controlled by it. It still hurts but it doesn’t dominate your life. Feelings, when embraced, usually pass relatively quickly. The more we avoid them, the more we create a backlog that can feel overwhelming and difficult to surmount.

Start tackling your pain one moment at a time. Feel it. Face it. Free yourself from it.

3 Ways to Quiet Self-Criticism

3 Ways to Quiet Self-Criticism

For many of us self-criticism is just the way we talk to ourselves. Our inner dialogue regularly sounds like this:
I can’t do anything right. I look horrible. What’s wrong with me? I’m such an idiot!
We assume that such self-critical statements somehow safeguard against laziness, mistakes and complacency; that they’ll somehow keep us in line and ensure we achieve our goals.
But the opposite actually happens.

According to Ruth Baer, Ph.D, in her book The Practicing Happiness Workbook: How Mindfulness Can Free You From 4 Psychological Traps that Keep You Stressed, Anxious and Depressed, “self-criticism triggers feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, anger, frustration, embarrassment, disappointment and hopelessness.”

It drains our energy and confidence and paralyzes progress. “…[M]any studies show that harsh self-criticism actually interferes with progress toward our goals.” And people who criticize themselves harshly are more likely to become depressed, anxious and lonely.

Baer makes a distinction between constructive self-criticism and unconstructive self-criticism. Constructive criticism, she writes, provides specific insight into what went wrong and what to do differently next time; it’s considerate and respectful; it focuses on the work,
not the person; and it speaks to both strengths and weaknesses.

Unconstructive self-criticism, however, is vague, inconsiderate, judges the person (not our work or behavior) and is unbalanced.

The good news is that we don’t have to resign ourselves to a life steeped in severe self-criticism. We can change how we speak to ourselves.

Below are several exercises from Baer’s valuable
workbook that can help.

Understand Your Patterns

First, it’s important to gain a better grasp of your self-criticism patterns. Pay attention to your self-critical thoughts and write down the following:

  • Day and time of each thought.
  • The situation that triggered the thought and what you were criticizing yourself about. “What was going on? Were other people involved? Was it your behavior, thoughts, feelings or urges?”
  • The specific self-critical thought. “What were you saying to yourself?”
  • What happened after you criticized yourself. What were your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations or urges? How did it affect your behavior? Did you do anything self-defeating?
  • What would you say to a friend who was in the same situation?

Be Mindful of Your Thoughts

When we have self-critical thoughts we often assume they’re 100 percent true, an accurate reflection of reality. But the actual reality is that they’re not. Our thoughts aren’t necessarily realistic or even meaningful. And we don’t have to believe them or act on them.

By being mindful of our thoughts, we simply observe them, without judging them, believing them or taking them seriously.

For instance, “you recognize that
I’m so incompetent is just a thought … You observe the emotions that it triggers and the urges that follow. Okay, you say to yourself. I made a mistake, and now I’m feeling embarrassed and frustrated and I’m tempted to give up and go home.

Then you can figure out a constructive next step, remembering to treat yourself as you would a good friend in the same situation.

Baer suggests labeling self-critical thoughts as thoughts when they arise. Include these phrases in front of those thoughts: “I’m having the thought that…” or “I’m noticing the thought that…”

For instance, “I can’t do anything right,” becomes “I’m having the thought that I can’t do anything right.”

If you’re having multiple thoughts, you can say, “I’m noticing a lot of self-critical thoughts right now.”

Experiment with Self-Criticism

If you think that self-criticism is still the best way to lead a fulfilling life, try this two-day experiment (which Baer adapted from the book
The Mindful Way Through Anxiety). On the first day, criticize yourself like you normally would. On the second day, practice observing your thoughts without judgment (and the exercise above) and give yourself only constructive criticism.

For both days, pay attention to how you feel and how you behave. Consider these questions: “How does it compare to a typical day? How motivated are you to pursue your goals? Are you achieving more or less than usual? Is your behavior constructive and consistent with your goals?”

Pay attention to how each day differs. As Baer writes, “There’s a good chance you’ll discover that you’re happier and more effective when you’re kind and constructive with yourself.”

7 Tips for ADHD

7 Tips to Help Adults with ADHD Stay Organized
World of Psychology by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S

Often the hardest part of organization for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) isn’t getting organized, it’s staying organized, write Abigail Levrini, Ph.D, and Frances Prevatt, Ph.D, in their book Succeeding with Adult ADHD: Daily Strategies to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Manage Your Life.
Staying organized requires daily, weekly and monthly maintenance. That’s because you’ll naturally amass more paperwork, you’ll get more mail every day, your clothes will get dirty, and you’ll need to put away your groceries, among other things.
As such, here are seven valuable tips from
Succeeding with Adult ADHD to help you stay organized.
  1. At the end of each day, take 10 to 15 minutes to pick up around your house or office. Pick up and put away any items that got misplaced.
  2. Schedule a set day and time for time-consuming tasks. This might include sorting through your mail, doing the laundry, paying bills or filing papers. For instance, the authors give this example: “Every Thursday night before dinner I do laundry.”
  3. For every item that enters your home, get rid of one item. This helps to prevent additional clutter and makes you stop and consider if you really need that new item in the first place.
  4. Handle your mail or paperwork once (i.e., the “Handle It Once” rule). When you’re doing your weekly sorting, avoid creating more piles you need to go through in the future. Instead throw away or recycle junk mail immediately. Pay bills right then. And file away important papers.
  5. Keep small containers in different rooms in your home (and one in your office) to collect items that are out of place. Then put the items back where they belong.
  6. When you’re trying to stay organized on your computer (or another electronic device), use programs such as Evernote or The Personal Brain. They “allow you to save ideas through pictures, web pages, or handwritten notes and then organize and find them easily.”
  7. Toss any items you rarely use or items that don’t add to your well-being. Some people are afraid of getting rid of things because they might need them someday. However, clutter “includes those items in your home or office that serve no practical purpose and rarely, if ever, get used. Practical can mean it serves a function such as a can opener might, or it somehow enhances your mental and emotional well-being, like that framed photo of you and your dog camping at the lake.” To help you figure out what to keep and what to toss, Levrini and Prevatt include a worksheet, which you can recreate. Divide a piece of paper into these four columns: item; purpose; last time it was used; and keep or throw. Then go through each item, jot it down on your list, and decide what you’ll do with it.
As the authors note, there will be times when your space isn’t organized, because life happens, extra responsibilities pop up and exhaustion sets in. And that’s okay.
Find the strategies that work best for you and help you stay organized. Incorporate them into your daily routine, which increases the likelihood that you’ll actually do them.

Listening to Shame

Listening to Shame
Brené Brown

The Power of Vulnerability

Brené Brown Ted Talk
The Power of Vulnerability

How Shame Hurts

How shame gets in the way of receiving.


Families Affect Brain Development

New research shows that family problems in childhood can alter the growth of certain regions of the brain which regulate stress.


On Gratitude

We hear it all the time: gratitude is not having what you want, it's wanting what you have. Alright. Great. Now that we've solved that… But how do we get there? However deeply we believe this truism, we often fail to understand how to practically implement into our lives—to not just say it, but to live it.


Resolutions and Renewal

On New Years Day we make resolutions-- but why is it so difficult to keep them? Even our most determined, teeth-gritted resolve seems to often fade quickly into the day-to-day. So much of the time we can barely sustain our fiercest ideals even for a matter of weeks. What's up with that?