Understanding Emotions
Thoughts on the Concept of “Stress”

Thoughts on the Concept of “Stress”

Stress is a real mechanical phenomenon. The picture with this article is a graphic showing a "finite element stress analysis." It's important to see how pressure on one part of the material can affect the strength of the material — and perhaps cause it to fail. It is...

Dealing with Earned Guilt Loops

Dealing with Earned Guilt Loops

Guilt is the emotion that you feel when you believe you have failed to live up to your own moral standards. It is perhaps the most enervating emotion. It makes you want to curl up in a little ball to block it out and avoid it. But that is the worst thing you can do....

Yes, You Can Put to Bed Old Issues

Yes, You Can Put to Bed Old Issues

In my previous article, I recommended that you have a value orientation toward your past actions even if you made a mistake. If you're feeling bad about something that happened in the past, there is something to learn about it and something to heal. Emotions only...

How Naming the Emotion Can Tell You Why You’re Going Nowhere

How Naming the Emotion Can Tell You Why You’re Going Nowhere

It happens to all of us. You decide your priority, you sit down to work on the project, and for one reason or another you go nowhere. Maybe you're not doing the work — you're resisting it. Or maybe you're doing it, but slogging along without much to show for your...

So You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything

So You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything

I've had every motivational problem ever. So when a participant in Launch 21 reported that she suddenly didn't feel like doing anything, I knew exactly what she was talking about. I call this being in a "funk." Suddenly, you live in a world that has nothing to offer...

The Value of Emotional Resilience

The Value of Emotional Resilience

"Emotional resilience" is the ability to suspend action on an emotional impulse. When you have more emotional resilience, you can suspend action despite stronger emotional impulses. As a 3-year-old, I developed the basics of emotional resilience playing "Mother May...

FAQ: What is empathy?

FAQ: What is empathy?

"Empathy" is a widely misunderstood concept. Understanding it properly is the first step to transforming your relationships with other people and yourself.  Empathy is not the same as sympathy.  Sympathy is a feeling you have in relation to someone else. You feel...

Why Do You Resist Doing Something Easy That Should Help You?

Why Do You Resist Doing Something Easy That Should Help You?

People sometimes come to me, distressed that they resist using "thinking on paper" or some other tactic. They are sure it would help them, they know that they can take the steps, but whenever the time comes to use the tactic, they feel a wall of resistance.  This...

What is Anxiety?

What is Anxiety?

Do you find the term "anxiety" a bit puzzling? It's always been described to me as a non-specific fear. My fears are always specific, so I never knew quite how to differentiate fear from anxiety until I read an article about anxiety by Brooke Castillo that clarified...

Happiness is the Fuel of Achievement

Happiness is the Fuel of Achievement

Happiness is not a prize you get sometime in the future, after you achieve a goal, or pass a test, or become worthy. If you believe that it is a prize you have to wait for, I guarantee that you are struggling to achieve your goals. You are sabotaging your own...

You Can Break the Vicious Cycle of Unproductive Emotions

You Can Break the Vicious Cycle of Unproductive Emotions

I've become a fan of Brooke Castillo's "Self-Coaching Scholars" program. I find her methods to be a valuable complement to the ones I have already developed. She's helped me speed up how I deal with distracting, unproductive emotions, while still maintaining the...

How to Analyze Old Baggage to Lighten the Load

How to Analyze Old Baggage to Lighten the Load

I use "old baggage" as a generic term to refer to any recurring motivation that gets in the way of pursuing your goals in the present. For example, writer's block is caused by old baggage. So is fear of conflict, which stops you from having the conversations you know...

Blocked by the Same Old Bad Feeling? Release Its Hold

Blocked by the Same Old Bad Feeling? Release Its Hold

Sometimes when you feel blocked, the situation has a deep, painful, familiar feel to it. You say to yourself with a sinking feeling, “I’ve been here before.” When you recognize that old bad feeling, try this somewhat bizarre procedure from P. J. Eby to release its...

Introspect Deeply When You Catch Tinges of Hostility

Introspect Deeply When You Catch Tinges of Hostility

Introspection is your tool for understanding and shaping your own psychology. Often, your first identification of a feeling is the tip of an iceberg. There is much more work to do before you know what caused the feeling, and can disintegrate any self-defeating beliefs...

Expect Internal Conflict During a Transition

Expect Internal Conflict During a Transition

As I write this, we are shifting to a new phase in coping with the coronavirus pandemic. We are not in total shutdown. Businesses are opening up cautiously. People are interacting more, albeit six feet apart. Just as shutting down posed internal challenges, so will...

How to “Forgive” Yourself

How to “Forgive” Yourself

The common wisdom is that you need to forgive an injustice from another. If that means “to grant a free pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.)”1 then I am not in favor of it. I’m in favor of a just response. Admittedly, that is more challenging. Often...

Distinguish “Buffering” from Procrastination and Self-Care

Distinguish “Buffering” from Procrastination and Self-Care

Have you ever found yourself teleported to the refrigerator at the time you were supposed to be doing work? Or taken a “short” break to watch one video, then had that turn into watching an entire series? Or started to tidy your desk to settle down to work, and wound...

Three Steps to Calm Down

Three Steps to Calm Down

With 20:20 Hindsight, I wish I had written this article before the last one, which analyzed the relative merits of “Don’t Panic” versus “Keep Calm and Carry On” as advice. That may have been a bit esoteric for some readers. So, better late than never, here is more...

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On

“Don’t Panic” “Keep Calm and Carry On” Are these two pieces of advice equivalent? No. If “Keep Calm and Carry On” is your mantra, you are more likely to maintain your equilibrium in turbulent times, such as the current coronavirus crisis. Why? First, “Keep Calm and...

Overcoming the Obstacles to Doing What Matters Most

Overcoming the Obstacles to Doing What Matters Most

There are only three obstacles to doing what matters most: confusion, temptation, and resistance, or some combination thereof. If you have difficulty doing what matters most, you may be under a false impression about whether you can overcome these obstacles....

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