Are Most of Our Problems Self-Created

Are life’s difficulties the result of overwhelming external circumstances? Or are unpleasant situations self-created?

A viewpoint that is popular in some spiritual and New Age communities is that we are responsible for whatever happens to us. When something goes awry, we’re invited to ask, “How did I create that?”

Perhaps unfortunately, we are not as powerful as we might think.

Five billion years from now, the sun will explode in a supernova, frying all life on earth. No one will be around to debate whether we created that. And forgive me for reminding you, but before that fateful day we will perish… of something. A harsh extreme is to look fervently toward ourselves for every foul thing that happens to us.

If our lifestyle habits have been less than stellar, such as smoking cigarettes or not exercising, then we might argue that we could have made better choices. But even that might be a harsh judgment. If we probe into the secret history of those who adopt destructive behavior, we might extend a more compassionate, less judgmental understanding. A history of poor early attachment or trauma, which can lead to long-term dysregulation in the nervous system, may have led to addictive habits to distract ourselves from unbearable suffering.

This is not to encourage us to cling to the identity of being a victim, where we blame others and believe that no positive change is possible, but rather to argue for the hope of gradual change as we uncover the roots of our discontent, cultivate loving-kindness toward ourselves, and direct gentleness toward feelings that have been threatening to face. Psychotherapy can be one good way to gradually deepen our understanding and self-care, while empowering us to befriend neglected feelings and make positive changes.

Stuff happens. We exist in an interconnected universe. One version of narcissism is to believe that life is firmly under our control. Those who lay claim to a special spiritual knowledge might be sobered to recognize that at the heart of all the great spiritual traditions is the humble recognition that forces exist in the Universe that are much more powerful than ourselves.

Philosophers and psychotherapists have pointed out that while we have little control over what happens to us, we have the power to respond to what befalls us. We can meet what happens to us with a growing sense of grace, wisdom, and patience. We can make room

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Dear Moms Let’s Simplify Christmas Enjoy It This Year

Let’s face it, while the movies portray images of happy families laughing around the kitchen table or in front of the fireplace during the Christmas season, often moms end up more stressed out and busier than ever. I know I fall into the trap, and each year I have to try again to stay focused on...

Continue reading Dear Moms, Let’s Simplify Christmas (& Enjoy It) This Year!...

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Psychology Around the Net December 15 2018

Would you be more successful if you had a pet? Why does visiting a place from your past bring back more vivid memories? Does a significant salary difference matter when it comes to the success of a relationship?

Let’s find out all and more in this week’s Psychology Around the Net!

Does Sharing Your Life with Pets Make You More Successful? I’m just going to go ahead and guess yes.

How Returning to a Prior Context Briefly Heightens Memory Recall: It’s probably not news to you that visiting an old haunt — say, your childhood home, your high school, or basically anywhere significant happenings…well, happened — brings back memories. Maybe even clearer memories than you have when you’re not physically at that place. However, new research now shows us what’s happening in our brains that bring back those clearer, more vivid memories.

Helping People With Severe Mental Illness Live Longer and Healthier: People with severe mental illness can live as many as 15 years less than people without mental illness, and research shows this shorter life expectancy isn’t necessarily directly related to their mental health problems; rather, these people are at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease due not only to the weight gain some psychiatric medications cause but also due to lifestyle factors like decreased physical activity, poor diet, and smoking.

Relationships Don’t Work If Salaries Don’t Match: How much of a salary difference would it take before you would become uncomfortable in a relationship? Or, would it matter at all?

Military Units to

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