Health Psychology Class

What remains the same in times of change?

Psychology Exercise from this Week’s Class

Grounding and Anchoring for Anxiety

Make a list of what remains consistent in times of rapid change and use it as a grounding technique at the start and end of each day.

  • The Sun Still Rises
  • Your Coffee Tastes Delicious
  • The Trees Greet You on Your Walk
  • Your Favourite Movie Still Delights
  • Your Bed is Comfie at the End of the Day
  • The Street You Live on Hasn’t Changed

In doing so, you anchor yourself in a sense of knowing and trust in your built-in strengths, comforts, and joy. ⚓️

Your Turn

  • What Are Your Anchors in Times of Change?
  • What Has Remained the Same Since Covid Began?
Video from Psychology Class: 
Click Here

What’s my purpose?

What’s your perspective on purpose?


Is it something you do or something you are?


Is it ignited at birth?


Or at work?


Does it expire at death?


Or when you retire?

The way I see it.


Purpose is for a lifetime.


It’s what lights you up, and sets your soul on fire!

Video of Post: Click Here

Love is a Language – What’s Yours?

How do you express your love?

Take Quiz

  1. The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Singles: Click Here
  2. The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Couples: Click Here
  3. Paper Version of Quiz — Tap on Photo Below

Love and Social Psychology

One of the reasons I love teaching psychology is that it gives me the opportunity to share why we do what we do. Including in romance!

The more we understand ourselves, the more compassionate we will be about ourselves and others.

Self Awareness and Social Awareness go hand in hand.

So given today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a good time to resurrect a 2019 social psychology lecture on the 5 love languages.

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In this particular psychology class, we talked about: 1) what we value in a relationship, 2) our preferred love language, and 3) possible reasons for romantic successes and failures.

Discussed more fully in the two videos below.

The Theories of Love (Part 1)

In the first video I discuss the psychological theories and related life experiences that lay the foundation for a social psychology class on love and attraction (Chapter 14 in my psychology textbook).

The Reality of Love (Part 2)

In the second video I reflect upon the lessons learned in psychology class and how to apply these love lessons in real life.

Topics covered on video and in class:

  1. While dating, be on the lookout for concrete factual evidence of what is important to you. Both in person and online.
  2. For example, how does “love for family” show up in your potential partner’s actions.
  3. Also, if your relationship values include loyalty, spending time outdoors, and making mental health a priority. Is this something the person you are dating also values and lives by?
  4. It is also important to look beyond the surface and pay attention to nonverbal cues, communication, and behaviour.
  5. Do their words match their behaviour? For example, your date claims to be a great listener while spending the entire night checking their phone.

When people show you who they are, believe them.

Maya Angelou
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Self-Reflection Questions

1. What do you value most?

  • trustworthiness
  • kindness
  • compassion
  • intelligence
  • sense of humour
  • physical attractiveness
  • attentiveness

2. How do you communicate love?

  • Listening
  • Encouraging
  • Helping
  • Love Notes
  • Surprise Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Affection
Love QuizClick Here
Love Video 1Click Here
Love Video 2Click Here

2020 Life Lessons: Be Strong Enough To Be Gentle

Lockdowns have us spending a lot of extra time with the ones we love.

Especially during the holidays.

And if you’re anything like our household, it requires a whole new level of relationship skills.

A deeper level of empathy and compassion for the pressures of the people we are living with.

Helpful Tips: Psychology Today

What worked before, doesn’t necessarily work now.

And if it does, it takes more patience, more compassion, more love.

For ourselves and others.

Emotionally Intelligent COVID Conversations

How does this show up in our home?

Emotional Intelligence: Resources

One approach that has helped tremendously is how I ask to have my needs met.

Not what I say but how I say it.

Same message.

Different Approach.

A new level of gentleness.

Power versus Force

Kindness versus Conviction

The beauty of this 2020 life lesson is that when I am strong enough to be gentle: I am heard.

What life lessons has 2020 taught you?

Watch 2 min Video of Post: Click Here

Anxiety Relief Technique

FEAR is an illusion

5 Why’s Technique

The 5 Why’s is a simple and effective technique for understanding the source of our fears and cognitive distortions (irrational beliefs) one why at a time.

Exploring the Unconscious Mind

An analytic (below the surface) strategy originating in the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

What’s Under the Fear?

Freud’s Iceberg Analogy : Click Here

Brief Instructions

  1. Write down on a sheet of paper something you beat yourself up for over and over again. (Related Post: Why Are We So Hard on Ourselves)
  2. State the anxiety provoking situation out loud.
  3. For example:
    • Why is it so overwhelming for me to spend time with ________ ?
    • Why do I repeatedly agree to do ___________ when I know it makes me uncomfortable?
  4. Ask Yourself Why in response to your question Five Times.
  5. Watch the psychology video below for a “live” example of this technique.

5 Why’s Technique on YouTube:

The goal is to discover the root source of what causes fear in a particular time, place, or situation.

With the ultimate intention of enhancing inner peace and understanding.

By differentiating what’s real from what’s not.

To Learn More

Watch my in-depth interview on situational anxiety with Dr. Katherin Garland: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=N7ttX6h_D8o

Anger is a sign that something needs to change

Anger Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com

Individuals are often looking for healthier ways to express their emotions.

For Example: Anger

That said, it’s not as simple as becoming “more calm” or “less explosive”.

The first step in transformation and lasting change is looking below the surface.

The Kübler-Ross Model provides insight:

5 Stages of Grief and Change

The goal is to discover if angry thoughts, actions, or emotions are serving a purpose.

Is anger helping or hurting?

How is anger serving you

Why Anger?

Perhaps anger allows someone to speak up, say no, set a boundary, or bond with friends.

And if this is the case, the goal of coaching is to help clients replace confrontations (for example) with more effective communication patterns.

PSYCHOLOGY HOMEWORK

Anger → Awareness

First: Set aside time to journal thoughts and emotions about “hot topics”. This allows for a cooling off period and a chance for self reflection and integration.

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Second: Plan a mutually beneficial time to discuss anger triggers and solutions with friends and family.

This 2-step communication technique results in safe, open, and engaging conversations that move both relationships and actions forward. Win Win!

Reflection Questions

  1. What Purpose Does Anger Serve in Your Life? Gains versus Losses?
  2. Does It Strengthen or Deplete You?
  3. Does Anger Move You Further Away from Your Dreams or Closer to Your Dreams?
  4. What In Your Life Needs To Change?
  5. Do You Need More Effective Ways of Coping with Frustration and/or Loss?

Once you understand the underlying purpose anger serves in your life, you’re ready for the next stage in the change process:

Transition and Transformation

Change Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com.

Psychology Resources

  1. New Conceptualizations of Anger: https://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/advances
  2. How Anger Affects the Body: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/the-mind-body-connection/202007/what-causes-anger-and-how-it-affects-the-body
  3. Healthy Anger Release Techniques: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-release-anger
  4. Assessing Motivation To Change: https://drandreadinardo.com/2018/08/18/why-change-now

Compassionate Listening

Even as a psychologist, I often don’t know what to say.

Especially now with so many people experiencing pain and trauma in escalating ways.

So rather than assume what someone needs, I have learned over the years to ask one simple question:

How Can I Support You?

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Empathic Listen

In doing so, I create a safe space for healing and acceptance.

Something we all need right now, more than ever before.

Unconditional love and support.

To be witnessed. To be heard.

All good conversation begins with listening.

Only then can we transformed by what we learn. 🌎💞

Video of Post ⇒ Click Here

CPR: Sustainable Resilience & Mental Health Habits

Dr. Andrea Dinardo MENTAL HEALTH HABITS
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/səˌstānəˈbilədē/

The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

Catch Pause Repair (CPR) is a Framework for Sustainable Mental Health & Resilience Habits.

CPR includes three simple steps as outlined in the video below:

1. Catch

Catch yourself before a stress response escalates by becoming more aware of what triggers you.

2. Pause

Pause and take a 60 second time out when you feel the physical sensations of stress begin to escalate.

3. Repair

Repair the root source of the heightened stress response which is often physiological in nature.

DrAndreaDinardo.com QUOTE

Supporting Student Health

Requested by

The CPR Presentation  was developed for the St. Clair College Student Sustainability Group as part of their initiative for supporting the health and wellbeing of college staff, faculty, and students.

New Opportunity

This was the first time I’ve been approached to make a video for a third party. And it was so much fun!

SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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Do you have a difficult time saying no?

While others in your life say no without a second thought.

Is this confusing and at times upsetting for you?

Are you hard on yourself because of this discrepancy between yourself and others?

You may be interested to discover that Saying No is not a one size fits all.

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Join me in my
virtual psychology classroom as I share one factor that explains why some people have more difficulty saying no and holding boundaries than others — Your Personality.

Feelers vs. Thinkers

Feelers

In this video I describe how individuals who are overly sensitive to the feelings of others (HSPs, Empaths, ENFJs) often focus on the needs of others to the exclusion of themselves.

Video: SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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❤️ Feelers take things more personally than thinkers.

Often causing feelers to say YES on the outside when on the inside their intuition is telling them to SAY NO.

Result = Mixed Messages + Unnecessary Stress

Thinkers

By contrast, individuals who are left brain dominant (thinkers on the Myers Briggs scale) are more straightforward and logical in their response to requests from friends and coworkers.

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Consequently, thinkers do not focus to the same extent on the emotions of “the requesters” in the same way that feelers (eg., ENFJ’s) on the on the Myers Briggs do.

💡 Saying no comes naturally to thinkers.

Thinkers know what they want and use analytics + logic not the emotions of the person in front of them as their guiding force.

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Learning from each other

On the plus side:

Feelers and thinkers make incredible teammates.

At work and in life.

Balance is everything. 🧠 + ❤️

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Additional Information

1. Right Brain versus Left Brain
2. Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
3. Learn About Myers Briggs Personality Profile
4. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

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Let me know in comments below how your personality impacts different areas of your life, including saying No.

Please share techniques you’ve developed for setting boundaries too!

I’d love to know!

Dr. D 📚

One Final Note:

In Addition to Personality and Individual Differences

Situation Also Impacts Our Ability to Say NO + Stand Firm

Video: Saying No is Easier When You Feel Safe

FOMO ANXIETY Simple Tips for Feeling Better

This post is for anyone experiencing FOMO. Particularly on a long weekend holiday!

Psychology Insight:

Holidays heighten social anxiety of every kind.

FOMO especially.

Consider these questions as you explore what’s going on below the surface.

1. Do you remember the first time you experienced FOMO?

2. How did you cope with the anxiety of missing out?

3. What if anything would you be willing to give up in your life in exchange for the fantasy of someone else’s life or experience?

4. What about your life do you cherish above all else?

Please share in the comments below, including your own strategies for handling FOMO. I’d love to know!

Savour this moment.

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Your emotions have a message for you.

Create space for feelings to flow.

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Emotions are neither good or bad.

Only labeling makes it so.

Don’t run from challenging emotions.

Instead, lean in and ask:

“What are you trying to tell me?”

Witness. Observe. Learn.

The best part is how small fear appears close up!

We must go in — to get through.

Helpful Article with Strategies

Click Here:  Lean into lonelinessDriveLoneliness

You hold the key.

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Even though we often have little control over the “outside forces” in our lives, we can always make a positive difference – from the inside out.

Start here. Right here. Right now. Be still. Breathe in gratitude. Be thankful for this very moment. Start small. Notice your passing thoughts. Let go.

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Awareness empowers.

Notice the exact time it is right now. Say today’s date out loud. Look up at the sky. Wink at the clouds. Stomp your feet on the floor. Smile with gusto.

Slowly bring yourself back to this moment.

Grab onto the coffee mug you are holding. Inhale the rich scent of the sumatra you are drinking. Feel the warmth of each passing breath.

Feel the texture of the clothes you’re wearing. Wake up to the sound of your voice. Whisper. Sing. Shout it out!

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Dance a little dance. Stand up tall. Anything and everything that shifts you from outer space to inner spirit. From not enough to overflowing.

Positive change begins within.

Come back to yourself. Back to the grace of your magnificent spirit. Into the beauty of your incredible form. Feel the rhythm of your beating heart. Sense the pulse of life itself. 

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Everything you need to transform yourself and the world already exists within you. You matter. You truly matter. But you have to believe it to see it. Feel it to know it. One gentle, uplifting thought at a time.

You hold the key.

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Originally published on March 1 2017

Lemon Soul Podcast: Thriving Under Pressure

The Psychology of Wellness

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed on the Lemon Soul Podcast by an engaging and bright young woman named Sierra Parr.

It was one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on and I hope you find the same value in listening to the podcast as I had co-creating it with Ms. Parr.

What is a Lemon Soul? 🍋

A lemon soul is someone who has been sweetened by the sour parts of life. Resulting in the most beautiful soul of all – “The Lemon Soul”.

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The Lemon Soul Experience 🍋

Sierra’s podcast questions are timely, thought-provoking, and well-organized.

With equal parts practicality, spirituality, and science. Wrapped up in a captivating and compassionate interview style.

So much so, that I revealed parts of my life that I have never shared publicly before.

Take a listen and let me know what resonates with you!

Lemon Soul Podcast: Episode 15

 Tap on Image Below and Press Play

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Thriving Under Pressure: Psychology of Mental Wellness

Listen on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/lemon-soul/id1386504193?mt=2&i=1000432857445

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SHOW NOTES FROM LEMON SOUL PODCAST 🍋 

Very honoured to sit down with Dr. Andrea Dinardo this week and divulge all my lemon soul questions with her. A true testament to her work as a psychologist and now psychology professor, this episode is FULL of good advice! With a deeper insight into many of our mental health struggles and the science behind how our brain is working. Furthermore diving into Dr. Dinardo’s personal life as she uncovers her fundamental inspiration for everything she does in life, her sister.

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Lemon Soul Podcast on iTunes

Topics covered on the podcast:       

From psychologist to psychology professor!
How to motivate students!
Why connection is important.
Compassion fatigue
The givers & the takers
Setting boundaries for others and ourselves.
Thriving Under Pressure!
Failure as Feedback!
Are we socialized to care?
How to train your brain
Challenge, Control, & Commitment
Honour your pain!
B r e a t h i n g s p a c e !
The universe box

Claiming your prize
GET MOVING!

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I hope this podcast interview inspires you to take the road less traveled this week.

The one you have been waiting to take for days, months, perhaps years.

If not now, when?

Listen Here: Lemon Soul Podcast

Empathic Listening: How Can I Support You?

How do you respond when a close friend shares a problem with you?

Mechanical engineer. 3d image isolated on white background.

Are you a fixer or a listener?

If you’re anything like me, my first instinct is to fix the problem.

To try and save loved ones from adversity.

To rescue them.

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To make them instantly feel better.

I suggest we do the opposite.

Instead of rushing in, we take a step back.

Ask them what they need.

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Give their pain room to breathe.

In doing so, we validate the person and their experience.

Helping them stay true to who they are.

just be there

It’s ok to not be ok.

What comes – also goes.

Welcome it all.

Video of this post ⤴️

Come join my YouTube Channel too! 🎥🍿

The Biology of Stress.

The Amygdala Hijack

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⊕ From Stress to Success ⊕

In this video clip of my keynote speech at the “You Can Do College Event” I share the biological origins of stress and anxiety with 300 high school students from Ontario, Canada.

In this segment, I also demonstrate simple strategies for dealing with high stress situations. Including deep breathing exercises, mindful awareness, and personal responsibility.

To learn more about the role of positive psychology in stress management & resilience, check out my TEDx Talk “Thriving Under Pressure” on the TED TALKS site.

Set a time limit on negativity.

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

In this interview I share why I set a time limit on negativity.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

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The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative vs. positive throughout the course of a day.

Negativity is the easy (automatic) route. So we need to be conscious of where our mind flows.

Venting feels good in the moment, but when it goes on too long, the costs outweigh the benefits.

Joy needs room to breathe.

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

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Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.

Balance is key.

Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience.

The question is – how long will you stay there.

Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties.

But also leave room for what’s good in your life.

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Joy needs room to breathe. And so do you. ♥

Interview: Energy vs. Time Management

Reading People: Lesson #1 Self Awareness

“The simple act of paying attention can take you a long, long way.”

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Intrapersonal Intelligence ⇔ Interpersonal Intelligence

The first lesson in reading people, using the principles of emotional intelligence, is to understand yourself more deeply.

What motivates you. What excites you. What angers you. What lifts you up!

As self-awareness is essential for both personal and relationship success.

If you can’t comprehend your own emotions and motivations, how will you ever understand the behaviour of others?

Understanding Yourself  ⇔ Understanding Others

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Self-awareness as a daily practice.

Notice how your emotions ebb and flow throughout the day.

One way of doing this is to schedule time at the end or beginning of your day for quiet contemplation and self-reflection.

Find your favourite place to relax and unwind. Perhaps in the garden or in a cozy chair by the window. Or on a walk by the trees. 

Alternatively, enjoy a 2 minute “Self Check In” at the top of each hour.

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Pause. Reflect. Breathe Deeply.

Journal. Meditate. Create. 

What you will find is the more consistently you pay attention to your own drives and desires, the better you will understand the emotions and motivations of others.

Simple self-awareness exercise.

In the video below, I share the simple exercise I use to enhance self-awareness in myself and others. Can you guess the EQ questions I ask students?

Your Turn:

How would you describe yourself in one word?

To hear my “one word” — check out the 1 min video above.  📌🎥


Learn More

Reading People: Lesson #2 

Social Awareness

First impressions.

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I met a delightful group of people at a dinner party this past Saturday night. Which of course (like all social occasions) got my psychologist mind percolating.

Particularly when one of the guests leaned in halfway through dinner and stated “Andrea, you seem like the kind of person who never worries”. At which point my husband (laughed) chimed in and said “Oh she worries. Plenty”.

The surface of the iceberg is a glimpse of what lies below.

This conversation brings up three important points. One, how truly multifaceted we are. Two, how those closest to us know us best. And finally, how we (write) teach what we ultimately need to learn.

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I am a worrier. I’m also brave. I dream. I overwork. I ruminate. I relax. I overachieve. I doubt. I believe.

I am not one thing. And neither are you. We are all multifaceted. Equally.

Related Post: Who are you?

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I believe in you.

As a psychology professor and former school psychologist, I talk about mental health issues with students every single day.

My classroom is a safe place for students to be themselves.

Which is critical when working with youth (18-24) who represent the highest proportion of individuals with mental illness.

Education helps bridge the gap between fear and freedom.

And so does an open heart. And an open mind.

I believe in my students. In their potential. In their dreams.

I believe in their ability to overcome challenge, adversity, and self-stigma.

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Students need my support and encouragement.

And an educational community that truly cares.

Because self-stigma is real. 

And often more silencing than social stigma.

Because sharing our story is one of the scariest and most liberating things we’ll ever do.

Be it about mental illness or another vulnerable part of our lives.

Which is why the best place to open up the conversation about mental illness is to meet students where they are.

These are their words.

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 Ontario student mental health helpline ⇒ Visit Good2Talk.ca

Mindset changes everything.

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The Resilience Mindset

What we believe matters. As it’s our mindset that shapes our physiological and emotional response to stressful circumstances. Ultimately, determining our ability to bounce back after adversity.

For example, when a relationship ends, if we view it as a personal failure, from a place of blame and shame, we are less likely to try again. Afraid to risk the pain, reluctant to venture beyond our comfort zone.

“Obstacles do not block the path. They are the path.”

On the other hand, if we perceive the same breakup as an opportunity to learn. To begin again. To start over. Fresh. Renewed. We are more open to meeting someone new.

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Today I am grateful for all of my relationship failures. For if it weren’t for the loss, the heartache, and the lessons, I never would met the wonderful man that I am married to today.

Trust the Process.

It was not easy at the time. Challenge rarely is. But if we just keep our eyes to the sky, and trust that no matter what we are going through, it will all be worth it in the end.

I hope you find comfort in your discomfort. And beauty in the stars.

Related Post: Lay down your burdens.

See the light in others and treat them as if that’s all you see.

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Your strengths light my way. ✨

The field of positive psychology has been a blessing for me, both personally and professionally.

By focusing on strengths first, I buffer myself against the  vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue often associated with the practice of psychology. And in turn, my positive approach heightens the resilience and stress hardiness in others. (Boomerang effect!)

Everywhere I go, I’m on the lookout for genius. And I don’t mean genius in the general sense. I mean strengths, assets, gifts, capabilities, multiple intelligences that are unique to each person. (Einstein’s quote below captures it perfectly.)

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For not only is strengths finding essential for illuminating the abundance in others, it is essential for harnessing the bounty in ourselves.

As each time we witness the light shining brightly in another, we see their radiance reflected back in ourselves.

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Reflection Questions

Identify 2-5 strengths that you witnessed in others today. Describe how seeing the strengths in others brought out the strengths in you.

  1. Today I discovered my brother’s ___________.  This illuminated my:
  2. Today I noticed my colleague’s  ____________.  This bolstered my:
  3. Today I uncovered my neighbour’s  __________.  This reinforced my:

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Related Post: Positive Psychology on Campus.

If you need help with finding the good in others especially the challenging people in your life click on this this link to a great article in Psychology Today.

The Paradox of Strength.

Some lessons happen over a lifetime. Others happen in an instant.

Either way, the paradox of strength is that it develops though pain.

Each misfortune cultivates a renewed appreciation.

Each obstacle fosters a new level of perseverance.

Each sadness teaches a greater depth of compassion.

Each challenge harvests a new field of possibilities.

We must fall down to rise up.

Again and again and again.

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Related Post: I've never met a strong person with an easy past.

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Liked vs. Respected

This question came to mind last week when I took over a college class halfway through the semester.

I know how tough it is for students to have 2 professors over the course of a 12 week semester. 2 sets of rules. 2 sets of expectations.

So it’s more important than ever that I play my “first impression” card right.

Students are more likely to “test the limits with the “new teacher”. Accordingly, I use a more strict than usual demeanour at the start of summer semester.

It usually works well. As my tough love approach becomes more on the love side, and less on the tough side as the weeks roll by.

However, this time I knew my first class authoritarian approach was not going to work.

Suddenly I had my hands full right off the bat. One of my students was not impressed in any way.

After laying down the law, the student looked up at me and said: “I’m not going to like you very much.”

And I said: “Good, because I’m not here to be liked, I’m here to teach you something.”

The student loudly responded: “Good, because I just learned something!

To this day I am grateful for how much this student underscored my purpose in the classroom. 

I am not here to be liked. I am here to teach psychology.

A life lesson in self-worth that applies to us all.

“Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.”

Are you a highly sensitive person (HSP)?

Do you experience more stress than the average person? Are you overly sensitive to external stimuli. Chances are, there is nothing wrong with you or your coping strategies.

Instead, your brain may be more sensitive to stress than the average person. You may in fact, be what Dr. Elaine Aron has coined “A Highly Sensitive Person” (HSP).

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Neurological differences found in HSP’s.

Brain scans show that HSP’s have “heightened activity in empathy-related brain regions” including the anterior insula (insular cortex), highlighted in the brain scan below.

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The intensified response of highly sensitive people (HSP) to stress is not a choice – it’s biological. HSP brains are wired differently than the average person. This fact has been clearly supported by scientific research.

Self Test: Are You Highly Sensitive?

  1. Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  2. Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  3. Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  4. Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  5. Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  6. Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  7. Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  8. When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?        

Source: HSP Self-Test                                                                                            

Harnessing HSP’s Strengths.

The main challenge for most HSP’s is to acknowledge their heightened emotional sensitivity, understand their unique emotional needs, and finally to employ distinctive strategies for coping with stress.

Helpful websites and resources below –

  1. A Guide to the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) by Dr. Judith Orloff
  2. Coping Strategies for the Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Ted Zeff
  3. How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Dr. Elaine Aron
  4. Highly Sensitive People in the Workplace by Janine Ramsey
  5. With Care, You and Your Sensitivity Will Flourish by Deborah Ward

Cherish your sensitivity. It is your superpower.

You were born to thrive.

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Do not fear challenge or adversity.

Run towards it. Not away from it.

Use it consciously. As a stepping stone.

To ascend. To soar.

To propel yourself forward.

To begin again. 

For strength is ultimately built from challenge, from difficulty, from overcoming.

You were born to thrive!

Watch my video for helpful strategies on how to thrive.

Harnessing positive energy.

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The next time you’re tempted to complain about the same thing (over and over again), direct that same (frustrated) energy into your highest, loftiest goals. Consciously swap one complaint for one baby step towards your dreams. Same energy required. Magically different results. 🎈

Related Post: Set a time limit on negativity.

You hold the key.

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Even though we often have little control over the “outside forces” in our lives, we can always make a positive difference – from the inside out.

Start here. Right here. Right now. Be still. Breathe in gratitude. Be thankful for this very moment. Start small. Notice your passing thoughts. Let go.

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Awareness empowers.

Notice the exact time it is right now. Say today’s date out loud. Look up at the sky. Wink at the clouds. Stomp your feet on the floor. Smile with gusto.

Slowly bring yourself back to this moment.

Grab onto the coffee mug you are holding. Inhale the rich scent of the sumatra you are drinking. Feel the warmth of each passing breath.

Feel the texture of the clothes you’re wearing. Wake up to the sound of your voice. Whisper. Sing. Shout it out!

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Dance a little dance. Stand up tall. Anything and everything that shifts you from outer space to inner spirit. From not enough to overflowing.

Positive change begins within.

Come back to yourself. Back to the grace of your magnificent spirit. Into the beauty of your incredible form. Feel the rhythm of your beating heart. Sense the pulse of life itself. 

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Everything you need to transform yourself and the world already exists within you. You matter. You truly matter. But you have to believe it to see it. Feel it to know it. One gentle, uplifting thought at a time.

You hold the key.

Letting life flow.

Stressful Times.

The one word I hear repeatedly from students this time of year is drowning.

Drowning in bills. Drowning in midterms. Drowning in research.

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Not a pleasant thought. And definitely not energizing.

A sinking feeling that takes student motivation from 100 to 0 in an instant.

By thought alone.

Empowering Lessons.

How can we help students to feel more empowered in the midst of winter weather, too many midterms, and not enough time.

Transforming Stressors.

We meet students where they’re at. By embracing that stressful, drowning thought and transforming it into a peaceful, floating feeling. By helping students feel safe and supported. In and out of the classroom.

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Trusting the Flow.

We remind students of their resilience. We show them how far they’ve come. We encourage them to flow with the moment instead of fighting against the current. Then and only then can the focused learning begin.

Video from today's psychology class. 🌊

What helps you go with the flow?

Your strengths light my way.

“See the light in others and treat them as if that’s all you see.”

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The field of positive psychology has been a blessing for me, both personally and professionally.

By focusing on strengths first, I buffer myself against the  vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue often associated with the practice of psychology. And in turn, my positive approach heightens the resilience and stress hardiness in others. (Boomerang effect!)

Everywhere I go, I’m on the lookout for genius. And I don’t mean genius in the general sense. I mean strengths, assets, gifts, capabilities, multiple intelligences that are unique to each person. (Einstein’s quote below captures it perfectly.)

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For not only is strengths finding essential for illuminating the abundance in others, it is essential for harnessing the bounty in ourselves.

As each time we witness the light shining brightly in another, we see their radiance reflected back in ourselves.

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Reflection Questions

Identify 2-5 strengths that you witnessed in others today. Describe how seeing the strengths in others brought out the strengths in you.

  1. Today I discovered my sister’s ___________.  This illuminated my:
  2. Today I noticed my manager’s  ____________.  This bolstered my:
  3. Today I uncovered my student’s  __________.  This reinforced my:

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Related Post: Positive Psychology on Campus.

If you need help with finding the good in others especially the challenging people in your life click on this this link to a great article in Psychology Today.

Blaming keeps us stuck.

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When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

Externalize the problem and blame someone else for it.

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Take responsibility for the problem and search for a solution.

It is only when we acknowledge our contribution to life circumstances that we have the power to change for the better.

Click here to learn more about Locus of Control.

Set a time limit on negativity.

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

In this interview I share why I set a time limit on negativity.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative (and positive) throughout the course of a day.

Venting feels good in the moment, but when it goes on too long, the costs outweigh the benefits.

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Joy needs room to breathe.

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.

Balance is key.

Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience.

The question is – how long will you stay there.

Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties.

But also leave room for what’s good in your life.

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Joy needs room to breathe. And so do you.💫

Helpful Video: 3 Energy Techniques 

What’s your stress threshold?

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Recently, a fellow blogger asked an excellent question regarding tipping points and stress response.

They were curious to know if each of us has a tipping point when it comes to stress management.

And if so, how does it differ from person to person.

I love questions like this because they encourage me to dig deep, reflect, and imagine new ways of perceiving stress.

Stress Thresholds

Tipping points and thresholds are often used synonymously in the literature. Especially when discussing economic, historical, and ecological phenomenon.

That said, there is a clear distinction between thresholds and tipping points in psychological applications.

Thresholds are more individual (unique to each person), while tipping points are more universal (shared by the majority).

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Which is why I see each person’s stress response as more of a stress threshold than a tipping point.

  • Thresholds vary from person to person (e.g., Type A vs. Type B), situation to situation (e.g., Work vs. Personal), and are based on individual strengths, challenges, and personal history.

See diagram above to help understand how thresholds affect your individual stress response. This graphic also depicts why a certain level of stress (below threshold) can be good for you.

  • Assess when you cross the threshold from your optimal stress zone (eustress) into your overload stress zone (distress).

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Situational Stress, Anxiety, and Thresholds

We may be good at some things, but we are not great at everything.

For example, the more challenging academic work is for me (high stress threshold) the more I flourish. Mostly because this is my area of expertise.

While this is not the case with other areas of my life (low stress threshold) and thus I tend to react (too quickly) when under pressure in certain personal situations.

In addition to overall stress response patterns, thresholds differ from one situation to the next.

Situational fluctuations in thresholds reflect our strengths, challenges, and personal preferences.

I discuss the topic of situational stress and anxiety in more detail during my Mental Health Matters Interview with Dr. Garland.

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From Negative to Positive Stress

Finally, I believe that our ability to cope and thrive under pressure is a lifelong practice. Something that is never mastered – only strengthened.

And the more we learn about life and ourselves, the higher our thresholds will become. As the majority of our stress is beating ourselves up – long after the stressor is gone.

3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure

Reflection Questions About Stress

  1. How does your stress threshold differ from others?
    • Compare your personal stress threshold to family members, friends, coworkers.
      • Are you the most high strung of your siblings?
      • Are you the most carefree teacher in the school?
  2. In what situations is your stress threshold higher vs. lower?
    • Compare your situational stress threshold across multiple settings.
      • When do you stress out at work?
        • Is it only during public presentations?
      • In contrast, when are you more relaxed relaxed and easy going?
        • Are you more relaxed during independent work?
  3. What are the benefits of stress and pressure in your life?
    • When has stress been good for you?
      • e.g., motivating and energizing
    • How has pressure helped you achieve your goals?