Tag Archives: psychology today

5 Signs You’re Living Too Small

Via Psychology Today

Pocket : 5 Signs You’re Living Too Small

David Sack writes in Psychology Today about our tendency to dream big, but live small. Have you ever made that mistake?  I’m sure we’ve all do that at some point in our lives. But….is it how you live? Are you afraid to try new things? Afraid of any type of change? Make lots of plans, but find endless excuses NOT to get around to it?

Do you….

  1. ….wait to be asked (Can I help you? or Can YOU help ME?)
  2. ….you have a tendency to avoid confrontation
  3. ….make room for the little stuff in your life before tackling (or trying to) the big things
  4. ….criticism hurts you instead of helping you grow
  5. ….plan more than you produce

If you can answer yes to these questions (1, 2 or all of them) click here to read the full article on Psychology Today. You may learn something!

IMPORTANT HINT! DO IT NOW…..DON’T PUT IT OFF. This is something for YOURSELF and I think each one of us deserve to fulfill our potential. Don’t get in your own way.




What Makes People Ask Rude or Inappropriate Questions?

Via Psychology Today

Published on November 30, 2013 by F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W. in Off the Couch

At a family dinner recently, Kerri* was taking a second helping of mashed potatoes when her aunt reached across the table to touch her hand and said, “Dear, do you really want to do that?” In stunned silence, Kerri looked first at the spoon in her own hand, then at her aunt, and finally at her mother. “So many thoughts went through my head. I was humiliated, stunned and angry. I knew that this meant that my mother had been talking about my eating disorder. I was furious with her. I felt exposed and horrified. But the strongest thought and feeling that I had was that I had to get away from the table,” she said. “Oh, and that I hated my aunt.”

If we give Kerri’s aunt the benefit of the doubt, we could say that she was trying to be helpful, that her action was motivated by concern for her niece. But what about those supposedly caring or concerned relatives, friends and even strangers who ask other inappropriate, intrusive, or downright rude questions?

What makes someone ask you when you’re going to get married or start a family, or how much you paid for your house, or how much money you earn? What makes someone think that it’s okay to touch a pregnant woman’s belly or guess whether she’s going to have a boy or a girl?

And what can you do when someone invades your privacy with an inappropriate or rude question?

In my experience, there are at least six reasons why someone asks an inappropriate question.

  1. They really do not realize that what they are asking is not OK. This may be the result of social anxiety disorder, narcissistic or other personality disorder, bipolar disorder, being on the autism spectrum, or any number of other conditions. Whatever the case, the rude question may be the result of a person’s inability toempathize with someone else’s feelings. He or she simply may not think that the questions might make you uncomfortable.
  2. Rebelliousness. “I know that it’s not considered socially acceptable,” the person may think, “but it should be! And I’m going to ask!”
  3. Anger and hostility, and/or the desire, either conscious or unconscious, to make another person squirm. This desire may, paradoxically, stem from jealousy or envy of the person they wound. Kerri’s aunt, for example, was envious of how close Kerri was with her mother because her own children did not confide in her.
  4. It may also be the result of having been on the other side of this equation, and wanting to put someone else in the same position. Psychoanalysts call this “identification with the aggressor.” Instead of remembering what it feels like to be the target of hostility, and feeling sympathy for the victim, a person takes on the qualities of their attacker, unconsciously making them feel stronger themselves. By doing to someone else what was done to them, they unconsciously make themselves feel like the strong one, and no longer the weak one. Kerri’s aunt, who was married to an angry, hostile, and extremely critical man, did to others what he did to her.
  5. (The two most difficult reasons to combat are, strangely enough, often motivated by a desire to be kind and to connect:) A desire to help. While this wish may actually be linked to any of the other, more negative emotions listed above, it can also be at least partly genuine. Kerri’s aunt had been an overweight girl and struggled with her weight as an adult. She knew how painful it could be. So although her behavior was rude and inappropriate, and very likely motivated by anger and envy, it was also partly motivated by a desire to help her niece. She did not want her to suffer the humiliation she had experienced in her own life.
  6. The desire to connect with you. Misguided and awkward as their attempts may be, people like Kerri’s aunt—and the people in your own life who ask when you’re going to find someone to marry or have a baby—are also trying to make a connection to you.

What’s the best response to an intrusive, irritating or embarrassing question? Our first reaction may be resentment, if not anger, but I have found that it can be most useful to start with the assumption that there is some sort of good will beneath the behavior. This does not mean that we should ignore our own hurt and humiliation—those feelings are real and need to be accepted, if only internally; but in most instances, responding from a position of kindness is the best way to restore our own sense of equilibrium.

When a person is trying to connect, or to be kind, our own gentle but firm boundaries can be helpful to them. When someone asks about your marriage plans, a simple, “Oh, I don’t know. It’s not something I talk about in public,” can be your answer. And then you can ask, “And how are you doing?” or otherwise turn the conversation back to them. Even when the other person’s genuine goal is to embarrass you, the same answer, or some other way of being kind is actually a perfect way to turn the tables.

For Kerri, the response was simple: Although her completely understandable impulse was to toss the spoonful of potatoes at her aunt and rush from the table, she managed instead to take a deep breath and say, “Oh, thanks for your concern. But yes, it is what I want to do.” And then, putting the potatoes on her plate, she turned to a cousin beside her and asked about her courses at college. Her aunt loudly tried to continue the discussion, but Kerri quietly said to her cousin, “I don’t want to engage in this. Can you keep talking to me?” With a big grin on her face—everyone had had their own experiences with this relative—the cousin complied.

And the dinner went on.

(Names and identifying information changed to protect privacy.)

Teaser image source: http://corefitnesschicago.blogspot.com/2013/01/headache-what-your-body-is-trying-to.htm

The Extraordinary Importance of First Impressions

Via @PsychToday

The first few seconds of a relationship may be the most crucial.

The 7 Laws of Impatience


When does #Impatience cost us dearly? When does it serve us well?

Published on November 19, 2014 by #JimStone, Ph.D. in Clear, Organized and Motivated



Sound familiar?

Have you ever wanted to give up on a paper you were writing? Or give up on school altogether? Have you ever had an interesting project turn frustrating when unexpected complications arose? Have you ever had to sit through school plays and movies you had lost interest in after the first scene? Have you ever had to wait too long to get through line, wait too long for the computer to load, or wait too long for Christmas to roll around?

Who hasn’t, right? We’ve all been impatient at times.

And we’ve all made rash decisions when our impatience got the better of us. We’ve left lines that were barely moving only to get into an even slower line. We’ve taken the pizza out of the oven two minutes early because we just couldn’t wait. Or we’ve blown up a perfectly good relationship because we weren’t sure where it was going, and we couldn’t stand the uncertainty.

We’ve also been overly patient at times, and have stuck with projects, jobs, or relationships long after it made sense to do so.

Which has cost you more in your life? Patience? Or Impatience? Different people will have different answers. Ideally, we’d get it right every time. We’d let our impatience get the better of us when changing course made the most sense, and we’d stay the course when that made most sense. Unfortunately, no one gets it right every time.

But here’s the thing. If we understand impatience better it will give us more power to get it right more of the time. And so I present to you these 7 laws of impatience.

Law One: Impatience is not a lack of patience.

The word ‘impatience’ is ‘im’ + ‘patience’, which, on the face of it, means “a lack of patience”. Just going by their names, patience seem like a substantial thing, or a specific mental process. And, by contrast, impatience is nothing but a lack of patience.

But this gets things backwards. Impatience, it turns out, is a very particular mental/physical process that gets triggered under specific circumstances, and motivates specific kinds of action.1 ‘Patience’ is the shadow term, signifying a lack of impatience. The patient person simply wasn’t triggered to impatience when others normally would be, or she found a way to overcome the impatience that did arise.

Somewhere along the way, we named these states backwards. Impatience should be seen as primary, and patience should be thought of as im-impatience.

Law Two: Impatience is triggered when we have a goal, and we realize it’s going to cost us more than we thought to reach the goal.

If you sit in your room with a blank mind, you will not be impatient. You’re just there. Now, if you decide that you want to go out and do something fun, you have adopted a goal. You are not yet impatient, but you might be setting yourself up for it. Suppose you call a friend to see if she is available to do something, and she is unavailable. Now you might start to grow a little impatient. And the longer it takes to find someone to go out with, the more impatient you will become.

When a child is waiting for Christmas, she might not be impatient at first, but when she begins to realize that she can’t stop thinking about Christmas, she grows impatient. Waiting for Christmas is costing her more than she thought it would in terms of her ability to pay attention to other things in the meantime.

You start writing a book, and you think it will take about 6 months. You’re on schedule, but you get an idea for an even better book. You realize that continuing to write the first book is costing you the opportunity to work on the second book. And you grow impatient.

You’re driving home and think it will take just 20 minutes to get there. But the two cars ahead of you are going ten miles per hour below the speed limit, and they’re driving side by side in the only two lanes on the road. You realize it’s going to take more time than you thought to get home, and you grow impatient.

In general, impatience happens when we have a goal, and we realize it’s going to cost us more than we thought to reach that goal.

Law Three: Impatience motivates us reduce the costs of reaching our goal, or to switch goals.

When we realize it’s going to cost us more than we thought to get to our goal, our mental gears start spinning. We start looking for ways to avoid the additional costs (in time, pain, distraction, credibility or opportunity).

When stuck in traffic, we start looking for strategic lane changing opportunities or alternate routes, or we start signalling to other drivers that we are growing impatient, so they might get out of our way.

When writing one book while dreaming of writing another book, we might try to speed up the process of writing the first book, or set the first book aside to work on the more interesting book.

The child waiting for Christmas might start bargaining with her parents, asking them to let her open one of her presents early. Maybe that will calm her mind for a while.

Law Four: Impatience and indignation are a potent combination.

Recently I was waiting in line at a grocery store, and my line wasn’t moving while the other line was moving right along. I was impatient. But I wasn’t just impatient; I was also a little indignant. The clerk in my line wasn’t checking, but was talking with her manager, and they weren’t communicating anything to us.

So, instead of switching lines, or waiting, I made a minor show of leaving my unpurchased goods at the counter and hurried off to another store. And there was an immature part of my mind whispering: “This will show them.”

In the end it took longer to get my lunch than it would have in the first store, and I was late picking my daughter up from school.

We’re in special danger of making an irrational choice when we run into unexpected costs, and we think the extra costs are someone else’s fault. If, for example, the clerk had told us that the cash register was broken, I still would have become a little impatient, but I would have simply switched lines and got out of there just a little behind schedule.

It was the combination of impatience and indignation that made me act like a fool.

Law Five: Impatience is more likely when we have more options.

When we’re part way done with one project, and get an idea for a better project, we can grow impatient. And, in general, the more options we have, the more prone we will be to impatience.

Any project will have it’s dips. There will be points where we feel on top of things and are optimistic, and other moments where we’re not sure the project will work at all. If we have no other project to work on, we can be fairly patient and just solve the problems as they come.

If, on the other hand, we have a dozen other projects we could be working on, we’re much more likely to abandon the current project when it gets hard. If we do this every time a project gets hard, we might find ourselves with a dozen half-finished projects lying around with nothing useful to show for all our effort.

That’s why Cortez burned his ships when he arrived in the new world. He wanted to take the “return to Europe” option away, so that, when things got difficult, his soldiers would not grow impatient, but would simply solve the problems and continue on the mission.

Cortez had a terrible goal. But he understood the value of limiting options in pursuit of that goal.

Options are good, but having too many options can be bad. Alvin Tofler called it “Overchoice” in his 1970 social critique “Futureshock”. Barry Schwartz calls it the “Paradox of Choice”.

Having too many options can make it more difficult to choose in the first place.2 And it can lead to more regret and a greater tendency to reverse course after the choice has been made.3

Law Six: Impatience can be bad.

Impatience can cost us.

If the child has no bargaining leverage, she’s going to have to just stew in her juices waiting for Christmas.

An impatient lane change can cause an accident.

Blurting out your feelings before you’ve thought things through can bring a premature end to a good relationship.

And switching away from projects every time they get difficult can leave you with a dozen half-finished projects.

 Law Seven: Impatience can be good.

But impatience can serve us well at times. Impatience is in our emotional-behavioral repertoire for a reason. When hunter-gatherers spent two days pursuing game and found nothing, it was good to grow impatient. It was good to consider the possibility that another food-acquisition strategy (gathering) might be better at that point.

Sometimes we are working on a project that’s going nowhere. Perhaps the market has moved on from what we’re building, and we need to accept that fact and start working on a different project.

Sometimes we are behind a slow car and there’s smooth sailing in the other lane.

Sometimes we’re in a dead-end relationship and need to get out so both parties can be happier.

Knowledge gives you power.

Here’s the exciting thing. When we understand how impatience works, we can channel our impatient energy when it’s time to speed things up or change course. And we can be more patient when it makes sense to stay the course.

The 7 laws of impatience empower us to ask the right questions when we find ourselves growing impatient:

  • What is my goal?
  • What did I think it was going to cost to reach this goal?
  • What are the additional costs I’m now aware of?
  • Am I blaming others for these extra costs?
  • Is it truly their fault?
  • Is it worth taking on even more costs just to teach them a lesson?
  • Do I have too many options?
  • Should I find a way to limit my exposure to new options?
  • Are there ways to reduce the costs of reaching this goal?
  • Is it time to abandon this goal?

Knowledge is power. And knowing how impatience works gives us the power to better strike the balance, so we can stay the course when it makes sense, and change course when that makes sense.


1 Understanding Impatience, Jim Stone.

2 When Choice is Demotivating, Sheena S. Iyengar, Mark R. Lepper.

3 The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz.

Further Reading

For a slightly more in-depth treatment of impatience as an evolutionary adaptation, read Understanding Impatience.

About the Author:

Jim Stone, Ph.D. is a philosopher, avid student of

Motivational Psychology, and developer of personal productivity software and workshops


How to Be Brave

#PollyMorland #Behavior

Via @PsychToday How to Be Brave.

As Anaïs Nin wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Herein are the stories of four brave souls.

Aging Gracefully

#JessicaGrogan #Aging

Via @PsychToday Aging Gracefully | Psychology Today.

Flexibility, openness, and good habits might give us an edge later in life.

6 Ways to Get Anyone to Do Anything

@PsychToday #Behavior #Relationships #Communication #JackSchafer

Via 6 Ways to Get Anyone to Do Anything | Psychology Today.

There are several subtle ways to get people to commit to helping you out.


6 Ways to Get Anyone to Do Anything


Adults and children alike often resist direct commands to perform tasks, especially when the people issuing the requests have no real or perceived authority. People who reluctantly comply with commands often develop resentment, which could take the form of passive aggression or not completing tasks as well as they could have been done.

There are, however, several techniques that reduce such resistance and increase the probability that people will do what you want them to—and, at the same time, maintain good relationships. with you. The trick is to get people to do what you want because they want to not because they have to.

1. Use the Magic Word

My parents told me when I was a youngster that “please” was the magic word. I soon learned that when I prefaced my requests with “please,” I tended to gain compliance. The word’s magic powers of have carried over to adulthood. People really do tend to comply with requests when the word “please” is embedded in the request unless they have a good reason not to comply. Children will comply with their parents’ edicts more readily if the word “please” is embedded somewhere in the command. “Please” is a command softener that gives the impression that the person who is being asked to perform a task has a degree of control in task compliance.

2. Say, “You’re Welcome”-Plus

When thanked, most people respond, “You’re welcome.” But to make your response more powerful, add, “I know you would do the same for me.” This invokes the psychological principle of reciprocity. When people are given something tangible—or even something intangible such as a compliment—they are psychologically predisposed to give something in return. Reciprocity increases the probability of compliance to future requests.

3. Get a Commitment

Getting a verbal commitment from people increases the likelihood of compliance. This technique is based on the psychological principle of consistency. People tend to follow through on verbal commitments because to do otherwise would induce cognitive dissonance or guilt. Verbal commitments are especially powerful when they are made in public. Getting a commitment transfers the responsibility of completing the task from the requester to the person asked to perform it, thus creating a sense of responsibility.

Example One

  • Mom: I want your room cleaned up by the time I get home from work this afternoon.
  • Child: Okay, I will.
  • Mom: Good. I’m counting on you. Do I have your commitment that your room will be clean?
  • Child: Yes, I’ll clean my room right when I get home from school.

Example Two

  • Salesperson: I am going to leave you with some brochures. Will you, at least, give me your commitment to look at the material before you make a decision to buy our competitor’s product?
  • Customer: Sure, I’ll take a look at the material this evening.

In both examples, the probability of compliance increases significantly when a verbal commitment is made to take action on each request.

4. Embed Your Command

Embedded commands contain direct requests but the requests are surrounded by command softeners. You’re still issuing commands; however, in this technique, the key is to cleverly embed the command within a string of softeners, the easiest being to add the word “please.” For example:

  • Command: Wash your hands before eating dinner.
  • Embedded Command: Please wash your hands before dinner.

Sophisticated embedded commands can be constructed by using additional command softeners to the request. For example:

  • Command: Fund my project.
  • Embedded Command: After reading my proposal, the only conclusion that I think you can come to is to fund my project.

5. Be Presumptive

Construct your request with the presumption that the person to whom you are making the request has already completed the task. The presumptive gives the illusion of commitment where no commitment has actually yet been made. Most people will accept an implied commitment and feel an obligation to complete the task. And instilling a sense of urgency to the request will increase the probability of compliance. Adding implied incentives to the presumptive further increases the probability of compliance. The incentive may look like a bribe, but incentives serve as a reward for good behavior—and increase the probability of future compliance. Rewards do not have to be issued upon the completion of all requests; in fact, they’re more effective when issued intermittently. The following examples illustrate the presumptive technique.

  • Mom: After you rake the yard, why don’t we go out and get an ice cream sundae.
  • Child: Okay!
  • Dad: Why don’t you rake the leaves (handing a rake to his child) and I’ll bag them.
  • Child: Okay.
  • Salesperson: After we close this deal, where do you want to have dinner?
  • Client: I know of a nice restaurant nearby.

6. Add a Sense of Wonder

Introducing a sense of wonder in conversation or in the form of self-talk also increases the probability of compliance. People typically want to tell others about their expertise. Introducing a sense of wonder takes advantage of this tendency. If you need help with a task, seek out a person with that skill and during the course of your conversation simply muse, “I’m working on this project and I’m having some difficulty. I was wondering if you may have run into the same problem.” An expert in the field will have difficulty not volunteering his or her expertise to show their mastery. They may even offer their services to help you solve the problem. This creates the illusion that the expert is offering his or her expertise and not being requested to provide advice or free services.

If you found these techniques helpful, go to http://words-talk.com/store.html for additional resources for effective communication, controlling anger, and techniques to detect deception. For additional information, you may contact the author: jackschafer500 [at] yahoo.com.


John R. “Jack” Schafer, Ph.D., earned his degree in psychology from Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California and served as a behavioral analyst for the FBI