Kyle MacDonald: Are You Too Hard On Yourself?
"I'm constantly giving myself a hard time, what can I do about it?
I can understand why people might get cynical about "psycho-babble", therapists do have a way of calling everyday things by rather complicated sounding labels. "Self- talk" can seem like another example of this.
Most people just call it thinking.
But actually self-talk is the way we talk to ourselves, about ourselves, in our own head. And pretty much by definition, it's only a problem...
Kyle MacDonald: When is 'Depression' Really Depression?
Psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald explains how the term is used to describe what are often very different conditions of human misery.
It may be an urban myth, but I've heard it said that the Native people of Artic Canada have 200 words to describe snow, because, as the parable goes, being surrounded by it makes you notice the many subtle variations beyond just "snow" and "sleet".
Psychotherapists have at least two hundred words for human misery, and many of them differentiate between the different kinds of depression people experience.
Kyle MacDonald: Inspirational Quotes are Junk Food for the Soul
Here's why inspirational quotes are like M&M's: appealing, tasty, addictive, and completely devoid of any nutritional value.
"I get bombarded with inspiring quotes and memes on Facebook and Twitter. Is there any evidence that reading them helps people?" Cynical
I hate inspirational quotes. Okay, hate might be strong, but I'm not a fan.
However, just like junk food, they seem to be more popular than ever. Now regular readers of this column will know I'm a horses for courses kind of guy, so if they work for you: then more power to you. But my main objection is that most of the time they're, well, just words.
How to Cope With the Emotional Toll of the Quakes
Psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald discusses how we can best respond to those living through the earthquakes, and why it's okay to let yourself be afraid.
When the Kaikoura quake struck just after midnight on Monday morning I was on air with Mike King hosting the Nutters Club. Not only did we feel the quake, we quickly had to abandon our show to take calls from distressed and worried New Zealanders all around the country and provide emergency updates to listeners.
As we talked to people, and watched the timeline on GeoNet light up with quake after quake, I began to feel deeply worried about being two stories up in a concrete building, about my family, and about what had happened in Kaikoura and was happening to our country.
Kyle MacDonald: Why Do People Worry?
"I've been told I worry too much. Why are some people worriers, and what can I do about it?" - Lifetime worrier
There is little shortage of things to worry about. As I write this, everything I read tells me I should be very worried about the outcome of the US presidential election. Global warming, terrorism, even our household cleaners can kill us apparently.
Worrying can always seem like it makes sense, because from a certain perspective, it always does. We can define worrying as thinking about future threats and problems, and planning to avoid or otherwise solve them.
However when we worry we make a choice we often don't know we're making. We choose to focus on that which is negative and frightening. We pick out the negative and chew it over in our mind. We set our own emotional tone.
Kyle MacDonald: How to Manage Stress Better
Do you wear your stress and "busy-ness" like a badge of honour? Psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald explains the problem with modern day stress and how to manage it.
"How can I manage my stress better?" - Stressed out
It always amazes me how easy it is these days to wear your stress and "busy-ness" like a badge of honour. How frequently "how are you?" is responded to with "really busy!"
One of my all time favourite book titles (and yes I do judge a book by it's cover and, even worse, its title) is about stress. Why Zebras don't get ulcers is a great guide to stress by Robert Sapolsky, and my favourite book on the subject.
Kyle MacDonald: Why Not All Parents Feel Joy Over Their Baby
After the birth of my child, I thought that I would feel so much joy, but instead I'm irritable, worry constantly and feel totally overwhelmed. Is this normal?
As a father, you always feel like you're looking at something you will never quite understand when you see the bond that develops almost instantly between mother and baby. Psychologists have called this "maternal preoccupation" because, of course, something so obvious needed a label.
But what happens when this initial joy, this "preoccupation" doesn't happen?..
Kyle MacDonald: Why Do We Need Mental Health Awareness Week?
By now, shouldn't we all be aware of what mental illness looks like? Kyle MacDonald explains why Mental Health Awareness Week, which began on Monday, is crucial.
When half of us, on average, will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime, and one in four New Zealanders are currently, it's a reasonable question. By now, shouldn't we all be aware of what mental illness looks like?
Dealing with mental health is a constant battle against the tidal wave of denial. The history of psychotherapy is a century-long effort to demystify and promote the treatment of mental distress because, for many, their personal battle is one against their own - and societies - denial.
Kyle MacDonald: The Problem With Tough Love on Teens
When it comes to disciplining teens, tough love tactics sound good, but most approaches are more tough than love, writes Kyle MacDonald.
I'm worried my teenage son is using drugs. I've been told I should use a 'tough love' approach. What's tough love?" Concerned parent
Tough love sounds good, and there's little question that parents of teenagers need to set and maintain clear and consistent boundaries. But most approaches are more tough, than love.
Kyle MacDonald: How to Avoid Drunk-Posting on Social Media
Most people know alcohol tends to make all of us less likely to filter what we say. The thing is, says Kyle MacDonald, social media can too.
"I have a friend who posts things on Facebook they regret, often late at night, sometimes when they've been drinking. Why do they do this?" Via Twitter
We all have a filter in our head that stops us saying all the things we think. There are individual differences in people's ability to filter, we all know someone who tends to say more than they should.