Had a Chaotic Childhood? Why You May Have an Advantage

For so many years, we mental health professionals have empathized with clients who came from emotionally chaotic childhoods and homes. After all, it's been shown that coming from a chaotic home can set you up for all sorts of problems later on (a pursuit of immediate gratification, etc.). But, what if I told you that crazy childhood may actually be an ADVANTAGE? Well, the researchers have been busy these past few years trying to figure out why some folks who report chaotic childhoods actually thrive in certain situations. They think they're close to figuring things out. For one, they started to realize that people who grew up with unstable parents have a real knack for judging people and sit

Jealousy and Envy - Can They Be Useful?

Even though jealousy and envy are perfectly normal emotions, for some reason, we have trouble admitting we have them to others (and ourselves, for that matter). Society tells us it's bad to feel jealous or envious, that those feelings represent some sort of deficiency of self (why else would we refer to jealousy a the green-eyed monster?). But, research shows they're not only normal, but may have actual benefits. First, definitions - jealousy is when we feel "I'm worried you want what I have," whereas envy is "I want what you have." In its extreme form, jealousy in a relationship can cause a great deal of distress, insecurity, and even violence (jealousy-motivated homicides are hardly uncomm

When Is Conflict Worth It?

Have you ever been around someone who creates conflict even over the smallest events or problems? It's as if this person might be hunting for conflict or complaint and seizes on every opportunity to "have it out." Even though that's the extreme, it IS hard to know when lodging a complaint might be worth the conflict that ensues. And, knowing when conflict is appropriate is even harder for those who feel they didn't have a "voice" growing up (now that I'm a grown-up, I get to complain about anything I want!) What's the problem with over-complaining? It can create conflict and distress where there doesn't need to be any. And, I've seen it frustrate more than one spouse to the point of wanting

Does Long Distance = Less Conflict?

When it comes to long-distance relationships, the generally-accepted philosophy is that they're not a good idea and often lead to conflict and break-ups. But, is that really the case? The latest studies actually show the opposite. The authors of one study written about in Psychology Today surveyed married couples who were living partly or entirely apart and found some pretty surprising results: Not only were they as satisfied with their marriages, they actually reported LESS conflict than married couples who were living together. And, get this--there was no higher incidence of infidelity, either. The authors have a few theories about why these couples report less conflict, and one is pretty

Just Because... That Doesn't Mean...

Inner conflict is one of the toughest battles to fight - after all, when we have an inner conflict, we can't blame someone else or schedule a fist fight in the parking lot. Instead, it's up to us and us alone to figure things out. And, that can be a tall order. At the root of most inner conflict is anxiety - the idea that, even without evidence, something bad will happen. Although many people don't think anxiety can be debilitating, let me assure it can be. The good news is there are lots of "tools" us therapists use to help those embroiled in anxiety. And, one of my favorite is "just because... that doesn't mean." It's a fill-in-the-blank exercise during which you can challenge negative or

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