When You are Disappointed by Life


Do you feel disappointed by life?

It is a question that as a therapist, I often find myself asking my clients, at some point in our sessions. The answer to this question gives me a peek into the inner workings of their emotional life, their expectations, and their overall life perspective.

Unfortunately, more often than I like to hear, people will share with me that YES, they are indeed disappointed by life.

As a clinician, I take the reveal of being disappointed with life as a possibility this person may be experiencing some form of depression (or has the potentiality to develop depression).

Disappointment is often the final step before depression. Thus how you answer the question of “Are you disappointed by life?” can be very telling of your mental state.

As a mental health professional, I have found that disappointment reveals a lot about the person who expresses said emotion because disappointment is largely a subjective emotion.  What I may be disappointed by may not even register on your radar. Disappointment reveals one’s values, expectations, and goals based on what they are disappointed by. Therefore, when a client tells me they are disappointed by life I follow-up with what specifically disappoints you about life. The answer is telling.

High expectations lead to frequent disappointment.

You cannot be disappointed by a situation you have no vested interest in. You cannot be disappointed by someone you expect nothing of (which should be most people because I feel we should not hold expectations of the vast majority of people we encounter unless we want to be constantly disappointed). We can only be disappointed by something we hold an expectation of. Disappointment manifests itself through the failure of expectations being met.

The thing about disappointment is it says a lot more about the person who experiences it than the target of the disappointment.  If you are frequently experiencing disappointment, then likely you need to reevaluate the expectations you hold of yourself, others, and life in general.

Now do not take this as me saying you should not have standards. You should. We should all have standards of being treated with civility and human decency. However, often I find clients will share with me their expectations of others are out of touch with what we can realistically expect of other people.

Disappointment is in many ways a narcissistic emotion. We experience it when life isn’t going according to “our” plan. If someone tells you they are disappointed in you, they are basically say you are not living up to THEIR expectations.

When you are experiencing disappointment, you likely are viewing life as unfair. Your glass is “half empty.” This is not a healthy place to be living life from.

When you think about what might have been, in contrast to what actually IS, you may experience disappointment. The further our ideal life is from our actual life, the more disappointed we will feel.

You likely have been disappointed many times before—by yourself, other people, and situations. It is extremely human to experience this emotion.

However, in trying to provide ourself with the ability to best cope with life’s inevitable “disappointments” we need to shift what we expect out of ourself, others, and life in general.


Life is never the problem. Our expectations are. Often if an outcome is worse than expected, we experience extreme disappointment.

This is all simple stuff to understand but we are often not cognizant that our own expectations are what cause us to feel disappointed. We often shift the blame to “out there.” We blame the other person, the situation, anything but ourself.

When things go right, you feel happy.

When things go wrong, we feel sad, angry, frustrated, and YES disappointed.

I find in counseling session, many of the people I work with do WHATEVER they can to avoid experiencing disappointment. They play it too safe. They live cautiously. They avoid “putting themself out there” out of fear—fear of rejection, fear of looking foolish, or fear of being disappointed by how things turn out. This is no way to live.

The problem with disappointment is it feels so hard to manage and overcome.

In disappointment comes a certain finality–the fact that you don’t have, didn’t get, or will never achieve whatever it is that you wanted. This is a bitter pill to swallow. Thus people avoid experiencing the emotion at all cost.

In disappointment, a goal we are trying to achieve is not achievable. It can be not getting our “crush” to agree to a date, not getting into our first choice college, not getting a job we wanted, not getting a house we put an offer on. Throughout life many opportunities present to experience disappointment.

In dealing with the people we love, disappointment can be soul crushing.  When we expect our loved one to give us what we want or treat us with respect and they do not–it is quite painful. Constant disappointment by a loved one leads to blame, resentment, and eventual detachment as we no longer are able to see them as a person we can trust with our feelings and emotions. Being repeatedly disappointed in the actions and behaviors of another lead to friendships ending, marriages dissolving, and family estrangement. 

It is often in feeling disappointment that we turn to anger. It is easier to feel anger towards whatever it is that is causing of us to feel disappointment then to face the sadness about the course of events. It is also easier to not look at ourselves and the role we played in our disappointment. We stay angry to avoid the sadness experienced in disappointment.

With anger you can continue to fight against what is and denigrate the person, situation, or event that is causing you to feel this way. However, disappointment requires an acceptance of what is and the reality of the situation.

Many people do whatever they can to avoid reality. This includes avoiding the experience of disappointment.

Much of what we experience is life is relatively neutral but our view on the experience colors whether it is good or bad.

How can we cope with our disappointment?

  1. Accept disappointment is a fact of life—it is an emotion we all will experience. Some disappointments are bigger than others but in resisting the reality of the situation, all we do is perpetuate the negative emotions that come with disappointment. Acceptance and normalizing the experience of disappointment is the first step in moving on.
  2. Reframe your perspective. Often our expectations of ourself, others, and situations are out of line with reality. Are you looking at the big picture? Take time to reflect on what mindset you are bringing to the table.
  3. Speak with a professional. If you are constantly feeling let down by life, now may be the time to speak with a professional counselor. Talking to a therapist who truly listens and has your best interest at heart can be incredibly helpful. Therapy can help you readjust your expectations to live a happier, more positive life.
  4. Shift your expectations. Are your expectations realistic? Can we expect people to do what is in the best interest of us over themselves? We forget that sometimes what is best for us is not necessarily best for another even someone we love. We all have our own lives to lead. Often our expectations of life can be unrealistic which sets us up for disappointment. Ask if what you’re expecting is reasonable.
  5. Don’t take it personally. Much of what people do is a reflection of their own reality, their own dreams. We need to work on becoming immune to the negative actions of others as to not destroy our own well-being. People largely do things because of themselves not you. It is not all about you–for most people it is all about THEM.

Life tests us all. We will all be disappointed. However, in self-reflecting you may find you are setting yourself up for much pain and disappointment by your own making. It is time for you to live a more positive, joyful existence.  Don’t let yesterday’s disappointments cast a dark shadow on today.


To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):


Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822

How to Protect Yourself from Dramatic, Negative Behavior


Today is Election Day.

As our country continues to become more divided and filled with ongoing conflict, I felt a post on how to mitigate dramatic, negative behavior (your own and other people’s) would be warranted. We are live in an EXTREMELY divisive society. It is important to know how to deal with people who live to manufacture drama in their lives AND yours!

The thing about our society is people have become very rigid in their views of the world. If you disagree with their way of thinking, they perceive you as the enemy. “Agreeing to disagree” seems to be a mindset of yesteryear.

In counseling we call this all-or- nothing (black and white) thinking. It is one of the faulty cognitions I work with clients on. It has become a very common way of thinking in our country—we see things in polarizing terms: good vs bad, right vs wrong, friend or foe, love vs hate,  on our side or against us, and so on and so forth. People no longer even ATTEMPT to find any common ground. “You are either with me or against me” is a common mindset in our society.

We need to do better. Life is much more nuanced than this simplistic form of thinking. Yet while we cannot control what goes on out there, we can control what goes on within US.

If you don’t protect your peace of mind, you will end up detesting life and resenting other people for your circumstances. We see this play out every day in the political arena.

Negative emotions are spiraling out of control across all walks of life. Being cynical is the norm. The ability to keep things in perspective and look at the bigger picture seems to be challenging for many.

As a clinician, I often have clients who come in to session keyed up who just dump their negative emotions out onto me.

This is an appropriate time and place for venting such feelings. Counseling is a place to process and release whatever it is you are feeling with a trained, mental health professional.

It is NOT appropriate to dump your negative emotions on people in your day-to-day life. This is a toxic way to act and behave. All too often this is happening in our culture–people offload their negative emotions onto anyone who will accept such behavior. In our political climate, politicians go after their opponent on a personal level instead of the policy.

This example set forth by our country’s leaders spills over into how our society as a whole conducts itself. 

This is why having healthy boundaries is more important than ever.

As a mental health professional, I have developed strong boundaries to not internalize what clients bring into session. It is important to not take on clients’ emotional state as to not burnout and protect my OWN mental health. I need to be able to leave work at work.

In life, we also need to be able to have good boundaries to not take on other people’s “stuff.” Nowadays far too many people find it acceptable to take out their negative state of minds on undeserving targets.

Maybe this topic is resonating with you. You may encounter, far more often than you care to admit, people who live for drama. People who are overly dramatic can be a drain on our time, energy, and mental well-being.

Dealing with dramatic behavior can be quite a downer.

You likely know exactly what I mean by overly dramatic behavior – it’s loud, aggressive, childish, intense, inappropriate, or any over the top emotional reaction. It frequently includes  yelling, gossiping, “emotional dumping”, crying, and acting like everything is a crisis.


These people are the worst. Their behavior is emotionally and mentally exhausting. It is YOUR job to protect and guard yourself from these characters.

There are people who live for the control drama.  A person like this is likely feeling small and powerless in their own lives. Thus they try to manipulate and steal the positive energy of another. Control dramas emerge when someone tries to gain power or energy from another person and to essentially, “get their way with others.”

These types of personalities get their way with others by making their target pay attention to them and then attempt to elicit a certain reaction to make themselves feel fulfilled and powerful. Do any recent political debates come to mind? A few certainly do for me. This type of behavior comes from people who feel VERY powerless in their own lives. They may have money, status, and all the traditional markers of success–yet are very unhappy on a PROFOUND level.

For these drama makers, their positive feelings are won at the expense of the other person. These personality types like their to be imbalance and drama in their interpersonal relationships. They live for it! They love having someone (or something) to complain about, vent about, gossip about!

If there is not something readily apparent, these types will create the drama. After creating such a hostile environment, they will more often than not BLAME you if you are their target of blame. Look at our politicians on both sides of the aisle and you will get some great examples of people who LIVE for drama and attention.  (Mind you, these personality types tend to lack self-awareness for how they conduct their lives–throwing bombs and acting like the victim when confronted by their OWN abhorrent behavior. Reflect on some politicians at the forefront of our political landscape RIGHT NOW).

How do we protect ourselves from other people’s drama?

  1. Accept you are NOT going to change these types of people. You can’t change people who do not see an issue with their actions.  You CANNOT control what other people do but you can limit the role they play in your life. You also get to control how you respond. You need to cultivate the ability to not be baited into other people’s drama. You are wasting your time trying to explain yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you. People who truly care for you will want to hear how you feel and work on the relationship. If someone does not care about you, there should be no need to waste your energy on them. Keep it moving.
  2. Recognize when YOU are creating drama. Are you looking for attention and excitement? Bored a bit in your monotonous life? Be careful. Those mindsets can lead you astray into the world of “drama.” If you find a lot of drama is ever-present in your life, you need to look at the one constant: YOU. Helpful tips-Don’t give unsolicited advice. If someone does not ask for your opinion, do not just offer it up. Avoid inserting yourself into situations that do not directly involve you. Do not triangulate with people who are in conflict. All you are doing is creating drama for yourself. Listen I get it. I have done it myself from time to time in moments of extreme frustration. Or in trying to be a good friend. I have learned people’s actions may frustrate me but I gain nothing from letting my emotions lead my response. I also can see how other people use their emotions to bully and manipulate–once you are cognizant of this fact, you crease feeling the need to react at all.                                If I share with someone how I feel and they attack me, I do not engage any further. I already have my answer from their reaction. The situation need not go any further. I walk away from people who are not mentally and emotionally capable of mature relationships. If you get into a back and forth with people, you are in actual creating your own drama.
  3. Don’t feed into other people’s drama. Gossip. Third party conversations.  Learn to speak less and listen more. Be an observer–not everything needs your reaction. Don’t let people bait you into heated debates where each side digs their heels in deeper. It is a big waste of time.
  4. Physically remove yourself from the drama. Some people will never stop creating problems for themselves and you if you continue to associate with them.  Keep friendships with people who have good, positive energy and do not CREATE drama.
  5. Anticipate difficult people AND situations. Take inventory of people who leave you stressed and unhappy. Refuse to talk about sensitive topics with people who are known for the ability to stir the pot and amp up the drama. Ain’t nobody  got time for that.
  6. Stay in your own lane. If you are busy watering your own grass, you do not have time to worry about whose grass is greener now do you? Minding your OWN business is the #1 best strategy to avoiding drama. Life is too short for this type of nonsense.
  7. Remain emotionally detached from other people’s opinions of you. If you derive your sense of happiness and self-worth  from your own internal metrics and values, you become immune to the opinions of others. When you are happy in your own skin, other people’s opinions cannot impact your happiness because you are in control of how you feel about yourself.   Know this.  When mentally strong people feel good about something, they do not let the spiteful or shallow comments of others take that away from them. I am not saying you should automatically stop speaking to someone who is talking negatively about you. Give them a chance to make it right. Speak to them about it—you will get your answer about how to proceed in the relationship by how they react to you making them aware that you know how they have been speaking about you to others. If they make excuses, refuse to apologize or take ownership, or attack you more—you are likely dealing with a dramatic individual.
  8. Be calm and don’t engage. Dramatic people are looking for a reaction–sympathy, compliments, some type of reward, to blame shift. Do not reward their bad behavior. Setting boundaries will be paramount as will enforcing said boundaries.

I hope these suggestions will help you protect yourself from whoever in your life lives and breathes for drama. Most of us have the same basic need and desire to get along with others and live a drama free life. Don’t let negative, dramatic people steal your peace and joy.


Your turn…

Have you been a target for a Drama Queen or King? Is your good-nature being abused because you’ve been inadvertently reinforcing their behavior? Do you have a personal story you’d like to share about dealing with dramatic people?  What helps you stay immune to the negativity that surrounds you?  Leave a comment below and share your insights and thoughts.

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):


Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822


Dislike vs. Hatred: Why We Feel These Emotions Towards Others


Why do certain people irritate us or rub us wrong while others don’t?

You can be the most loving, kind, down to earth, open-minded person on the planet and STILL get extremely annoyed by certain people.

There are billions of us on the planet. The fact is we are not going to get along with everyone.

I can remember years ago studying Carl Jung who famously said, “Everything that irritates us about another can lead up to an understanding of ourselves.”

This may be a tough idea to get behind for many of us. For instance, if we don’t care for someone who is selfish, we wouldn’t think we dislike this individual because we, ourselves, are in fact selfish.

Yet Jung purported that if you are open enough to the idea, what you dislike about others, can teach you about yourself.

I think it is easier to apply this when the shoe is on the other foot. What I mean by this is it is easier to apply this theory when other people project their negative qualities onto us instead of when we are projecting our negative qualities onto someone else. I remember a couple of times in my past when people projected onto me the qualities that were in fact their own. Before I was trained as a psychotherapist, in all likelihood I  would have reacted. Being in this profession, I am cognizant of when someone is projecting and knowing this, I feel no need to react (although  being human I do slip up from time to time and always kick myself for doing so)!

There is no need to react or defend ourselves against other people’s projections. Those projections are theirs. We do not need to OWN other people’s stuff.


Usually when someone is projecting, they are trying to offload their negative qualities onto you.

Thus when someone is dumping their disowned feeling on you, if you are conscious enough, you cease the need to react at all.

The fact is everyone is your mirror. 

According to Jung, we all have a shadow self.

The shadow is irrational, prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else (Jung).

Our shadow is an innate part of ALL of us, yet the vast majority of us are blind to its existence. 

Many of us do our best to hide our negative qualities, not only from others but from ourselves. Thus we often criticize and condemn others to ensure the focus does not fall our destructive tendencies and fault. 

Many of us are only conscious of our persona. The persona is the social mask we as individuals present to the world. It is the public image of someone.


Underneath the mask we show to the world, our shadow remains unconscious and can wreak havoc in our life.

The Shadow is all the thoughts and emotions we repress as being socially inappropriate. Rage, envy, jealousy, schadenfreude (the pleasure we derive from another person’s misfortune).  This is all shadow material.  The more we repress shadow material, the more of a hold it has on us.

But what about if we are talking about people we don’t merely dislike but people we hate?

See when we dislike someone, we simply avoid this person. We don’t feel the need to rage about them, yell at them, fixate on them. We do not want to get into a back and forth with them. Dislike suffices. We just move on with our life and limit our contact with this person as much as humanly possible.

Hatred is a whole other animal. Hate often arises because we see another as an “enemy.” In this enemy we see a part of ourselves we hate. Yet whatever we hate about our “enemy” can be explained by simple fact: they trigger dormant feelings of shame and inferiority.

The more insecure you are, the more you feel attacked by others, regardless of whether they are in actual attacking you or not.

How insecure you are will play a factor in whether you merely dislike someone or if you hate them.

Dislike vs. Hatred

Let us differentiate between mere dislike and hatred. When you dislike someone, you rather NOT be around them. You do not want to interact with them because it is unpleasant. You do not wish ILL on this person and if anything you feel apathetic for them. Many you even pity them because you recognize how unhappy and miserable they are by their behavior. When you dislike someone, you don’t care to give them much thought or energy.

Disliking people is normal throughout life. Yet for the most part, we are going to be neutral towards people. We will not like them NOR dislike them.

Hatred, on the other hand, means you consider a person an enemy and a threat. Thus you are invested in their destruction. You wish ill on them and want to see them destroyed.

When you hate someone:

~you obsess over them. You will gossip and smear them to anyone who listens. You cannot let go of what they said or did.

~you feel good when something bad happens to them. If something good happens to them, you try to minimize it or dismiss it.

~you try to convince others of how horrible and evil this person is. You think people must know the “truth” about him or her. You desperately seek confirmation from others about how horrible this person is.

Long story short, the difference between hatred and dislike is the former involves time and effort while the latter involves apathy.

Personally, I have people I dislike but hatred to me is not something I allow myself to engage in because I am conscious of the fact it would just make ME miserable and unhappy. It also takes WAY too much energy and time to hate someone (and who has that?!) It destroys the person who feels it not the target of contempt and disdain. I believe is certain situations we all are capable of feeling hatred towards another person in passing but this emotion is not a fixture in our lives.

In psychologically unhealthy people, hatred may be felt by anyone who dare challenges their worldview or opinions (any famous figures coming to mind?!)

When you hate someone you feel compelled to verbally spar with them not because you want to win but you don’t want to lose. (Once again, people we hate trigger in us shame and inferiority). A person you just dislike, you don’t care to get into it with them. To you, it isn’t worth the energy. If you dislike someone, you aren’t being triggered by shame and inferiority. The person’s behavior just rubs you wrong (maybe they are in fact just obnoxious). And hey, if Jung has taught us anything, it is that we TOO can be obnoxious and rub people wrong!

Although most people would never acknowledge it, people who hate other people generally hate someone who they feel threatened by or triggers their feelings of inferiority.

You usually hate someone who exposes or highlights your issues, baggage, and insecurities. 

If you hate someone, you feel that this person is trying to expose your flaws to the world. Hatred is a very irrational emotion. The fact is most people are not interested in exposing your flaws (unless they are abusive or a bully). Most of us are just trying to hide our own flaws.

Hatred is a slippery slope. It is not wrong to get threatened or angry with other people, yet in taking it to the level of hatred, you are dwelling and ruminating on your own hate.

If we hate someone, we feel they are diminishing us. If you feel this emotion, it is time to begin the process of release.

Counseling may be a good place to start to weaken the grasp this toxic emotion has on you.

Hate will not go away on its own. You need to actively work at releasing its toxic hold on you.

Hate makes us want to fight. Dislike makes us want to not engage.

Hate makes us irrational. Dislike makes us rationalize.

Hate makes us want to smear the person to ANYONE who will listen. Dislike makes us not even care to mention the person’s name because they aren’t on our mind.

Hate makes us want to seek revenge. Dislike makes us avoid the unpleasantness of dealing with this individual.

It is possible to move from hatred to dislike.

Release the judgements.

Move on with your own life.

Being compassionate can mean walking away without saying ANYTHING. Often no answer is the best answer.

When we are at peace with ourselves, we stop being at war with others.

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):


Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822


What to Do When You are Feeling Bad about Yourself

dont-let-a-bad-day-make-you-feel-like-you-have-a-bad-life No matter who we are we all have our days where we just aren’t feeling great about ourselves. It can be situational such as a recent break up, a falling out with a friend, trouble with one of our kids, health issues (our own or someone we love’s), weight gain, financial stress, an issue at work, our house looking a fright. Insert crummy feeling here. When we are feeling bad about ourselves or our current situation, it can affect our life in numerous ways. Feeling bad about yourself can color your view of the worldmaking us feel negative about everyone and everything. When we are in this state, we tend to bring others around us down too. We drive people away from us with our negativity. Let’s be fair here. Life is hard enough without being around a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer. No one is going to want to be in your company if you spew negativity. When we put negativity out into the universe, we bring down the vibe of the room and the moods of others. I refer to this behavior as anger dumping–where we dump our negative emotions on someone else. For many people this helps them feel better. Yet this type of behavior will drive people away from us which in turn will only make us feel worse about ourselves. a70be386eaa2a7235a72cc0bcd7c3a49.jpg Besides hurting our relationships, often when we aren’t feeling very high on ourselves, we make matters worse with our chronic negative self-talk. A running dialogue in your mind can begin to play caustic self-talk. I am not making enough money. I am too fat. My house isn’t organized enough. My kids won’t listen. Why won’t my cholesterol numbers budge? I have too much to do. I am getting so old. Are those gray hairs? Why is my blood pressure so high? I hope I don’t lose my job. What am I going to do when my kids go to college? Does my wife still find me attractive? Why can’t I finish what I start? What’s next? Am I doing enough?  We all have a unique “tape” that plays in our mind. shutterstock_158126879.jpg What are the thoughts that run through your mind when you are spiraling into your “negative zone?” We all have negative thoughts we tell ourselves when we are feeling down and out. Our thoughts are very subjective and usually are a reflection of our values. If you are a parent, maybe you get down on yourself about your parenting. If you are self-conscious about how you look, maybe you beat yourself up for how you are aging or how much weight you have put on through the years. If you are career-oriented, you chide yourself for things you could have done better with clients or colleagues. If you are relationship oriented, you focus on the state of your marriage or relationship. If you are into fitness, you beat yourself up about not getting below a 7 minute mile. hay-quote-blog.jpg We all have unique values and different things we tend to focus on. Yet it seems to be a universal experience that we are ALL our own worst critic. Too often we do not question the thoughts we think. We just accept our thoughts at face value. The way we talk to ourselves is going to impact how we feel. CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and REBT (rational emotive behavior therapy) are centered around how we feel is largely a result of the thoughts we think. Thus the goal in treatment is to work on a client’s cognitions and thought processes. aa The way we think is going to have a direct impact on how we feel AND act. All too often we let a bad day spiral. Our thoughts turn pessimistic. We begin to view a bad day as a bad life. A bad work day as a bad job. A bad fight as a bad relationship. A lazy day as us just being lazy. We generalize negative feelings and blow things out of proportion. The reality is some days are better than others. We have days we are more productive than others. When days go less well, we usually are harder on ourselves. But feeling bad about yourself won’t get you anywhere you want to go. The negative self-talk will zap your motivation. It will color the way you feel about others. You will begin to feel exhausted–mentally and physically. It was impact the way you feel about yourself. It can make you physically ill. When you start to feel in a down mood…ask yourself what IS IT that I am focusing on? Maybe you will find you are focusing on something you don’t want or something you don’t care for. Perhaps you are focusing on….a person you don’t like, a habit you have you are struggling to kick, a situation at work that is driving you nuts, a problem your kid is having that you can’t seem to help her to overcome, an ongoing point of contention with your spouse, a number on the scale that won’t budge, and so on and so forth. happiness-is-a-choice-that-requires-effort-at-time.png What can you do when you are feeling down to boost ourselves up? 1.Reduce stress. We are more likely to get stuck in a negative spiral when our life is more hectic than we care for. Try to find ways to mitigate stress–focus on the musts, not the shoulds of your to-do list. Accept your needs, manage your time, practice relaxation. Learn to recognize the signs of your body’s stress response (difficulty sleeping, being easily angered, feeling depressed, having low energy, increased substance use). 2.Schedule things you enjoy into your week. Too often we forget about our self-care. Make sure you have time throughout the week to get in some things you enjoy–a tv show,  a book, a workout, coffee with a friend.  If you need to, literally schedule “fun” into your weekly planner. Adults need downtime and fun just as much as kids do. 3.Watch what you eat. Bad nutrition does not help our mood. In fact much research shows a direct correlation between an unhealthy diet and mood disorders. Make an effort to focus on a healthy diet as the foods we eat certainly impact our mental well-being. Do some research on nutritional psychiatry if you feel your diet can be impacting your moods. 4.Exercise. Even if you only have 15 minutes to go take a walk outside your office. Every little bit helps. Exercise has a way of getting us motivated, giving us energy,  and improves our self-esteem. It also helps to break up the monotony of our day. 5.Limit time spent with negative people. You do not need other people’s negativity bringing you down. Set boundaries with these energy vampires. These people should get the least of our energy and time–anyone with a bad attitude, fatalistic outlook,  disdain for other people, catastrophic thinkers—-they have got to go. These people have a way of creating problems for themselves AND others. It will be hard to not feel misery around miserable people. 6.Connect with the people you love. Too often we let weeks go by without calling a friend or family member. Texting is NOT the same. Try to figure out a way to connect with the people you love—call on the drive home from work, stop by on your Saturday morning bagel run, make the effort to connect. 7.Ask for help. We are all in this together. No man is an island. If you are struggling, reach out for support. Don’t let pride or fear get in the way. Sometimes we begin to self-isolate when we aren’t feeling too happy with ourselves. Withdrawing from people will only make you feel worse. 8.Meditate. Quieting our mind can reduce stress, improve sleep, increase focus, improve relationships, and  improve our mood. Meditating has a way of stopping our judgmental thoughts and bringing us back into the present moment. It can help you stop spinning stories, thoughts, fantasies about yourself (and other people).  Meditation cultivates calmness from within and helps you to take your thoughts (and self) less seriously. 9.Keep going. Give yourself credit for how hard you work. Action breeds confidence. Often when we are feeling down on ourselves, we get paralyzed into inaction by our negative thoughts. Don’t sit home thinking about it, just do it. 10.Watch your thoughts. Notice when you find yourself falling into a negative spiral. Thinking is the way we talk to ourselves.  Often we talk to ourselves in a way we would never dare speak to others. Try to take note of your mental habits–the stories you tell yourself, your fantasies, your ideas. Learning to observe yourself is pivotal to monitoring your actions and changing how you feel. We all struggle from time to time. No one is immune from feeling bad about themself every now and again.  Part of being human is realizing we are all works in progress. We will never be “done” or “complete.”  (Unless we are dead–I don’t think any of us want that). We are always growing and evolving. Try to feel good about yourself regardless of what trials and tribulations life brings. If you continually struggle with this, counseling may be the place to begin the journey to self-acceptance. albert-ellis-1643

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in seeking counseling with me:


Erin Doyle Theodorou, M.Ed, LPC, NCC


590 Franklin Ave.

Suite 2

Nutley, NJ 07110



Why Good Relationships are Key to a Happy Life

a9999.jpg Good relationships are the cornerstone of mental health and well-being. They are a vital part of being able to withstand the vicissitudes of life. If I were to think of the hardest times of my life, my friends and family’s support made all the difference. Their support, love, and comfort=priceless. The people in my life who I know are with me through thick and thin…truly one of life’s greatest blessings. Reflect on your own hardships and the most trying moments of your life. Who were the people who stood by your side and helped you make it through? Who had your back no matter what? What relationships have endured the test of time? The fact is it is easy to be there for someone when times are good. It is when times are bad when we see the true colors of everyone in our lives. Sadly, it is during tough times when the people we may have thought cared about us may reveal they do not care as much as we had previously assumed. The pain of this truth can be tremendous. a13.png As painful as this may be, it makes you all the more appreciative of all the supportive, loving people in your life. You recognize the value these relationships are to your well-being. That is what this post is about–the importance of nurturing good, healthy relationships. And the responsibility you having in doing so. It is all too easy to neglect our relationships. Life happens–marriage, kids, careers, running a household. Listen, I get it! You are busy. You can only juggle so much! But if you were to think of the happiest moments in your life–the majority of them most likely entailed being surrounded by ALL the people you love most. Weddings, parties, baptisms, graduations, housewarmings, anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, vacations. Happy memories are usually the times we spent with the ones we love and cherish the most. In our fast-paced, always on the go world, it has become all too easy to forget that a happy life runs parallel with loving, supportive relationships. We are social animals. We are designed to be connected to others. As an extremely individualistic society, we often think what will bring us long-lasting happiness are results of our individual pursuits. Our career success, our financial success, our individual goals. But our communal goals are shown to bring more long-term happiness. We are all in this together, let’s not forget. Our relationships are a source of much of our joy in life. Our families, our circle of friends, the colleagues we are close with. Research shows close, supportive relationships bring more happiness than fame or money. These are the people we laugh with, cry with, share with, vent with, help with. Our close relationships bring much of the happiness we experience on our journey through life. Yet at the same time—-what is it that cause of the most unhappiness in our lives? Our relationships. a4 Much of the state of our relationships are a reflection on us. Our actions, our thoughts, our behavior. OR our inaction, negative thoughts, negative behavior. We are a large part of our relationship problems. The problem is–many people do not want to take ownership of this fact. It is much easier to blame the other person than look at how we contribute to problems in our relationships. Many of us don’t want to do our part. Let’s be honest. We put care and effort into the things we value. If you value a certain relationship, you will put in the effort to maintain it, protect it, and keep it. If you were to reflect on your relationships that you have lost throughout your life, at a certain point, if you were honest…you stopped putting in the effort. You stopped caring. Maybe with good reason–you outgrew the other person OR this was a relationship with a person who had not treated you right but you had tolerated for far too long. Part of life is loss and this includes losing relationships that no longer serve us. Or maybe it was the reverse situation. The other person showed you they didn’t care. They didn’t put in effort. They didn’t value you or the relationship. They forced your hand into walking away. aaaa.jpg If you were to reflect on the relationships you lost along the way, can you pinpoint a time when you felt the cons outweighed the pros of maintaining it? I think if we are honest with ourselves we can. Or can you pinpoint a moment when you realized the other person didn’t care to maintain the relationship? Any relationship in my life that has survived the test of time I have put effort into maintaining. The other person has put the effort in as well. It takes two. Relationships with family members, friends, my partner. I value these relationships and I do what I can to support the individual and the relationship as a whole. If you want to be mentally healthy research says having meaningful relationships will help you to fight off feelings of anxiety, depression, and anger. Having people to share your concerns, hopes, fears, and challenges with help you stay connected and stable. Close relationships fight off feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is a silent killer. Social isolation is shown to lead to depression. Being connected is a fundamental human NEED. We all need to feel a sense of love and belonging. The reality is if you want the benefits of supportive relationships you need to CHOOSE to put effort into being a supportive, healthy person. You get what you give. It very much takes a choice to invest in the relationships in our life. The truth is our relationships are very much a choice. Our behavior is a choice. Our relationships are a reflection of our choices. William Glasser, the father of choice theory, says virtually all our behavior is a choice. He posits that most mental health issues, including depression, arise from problems in one’s relationships. a6 I think in popular psychology this concept has played out to a large extent. Many psychological theories focus on the issues that arise from unhealthy relationships with one’s parents. Oedipus complex. Electra complex. I can say that I have seen as a clinician direct correlation between people who have bad relationships with their parents and their mental health.As a society we jokingly refer to this as having “mommy issues” or “daddy issues” but there is far from a joking matter. Our relationships, especially key ones like the ones we have with our parents, impact our mental health. Our relationships have a profound impact on our lives. This is why people who are often in unhealthy or abusive relationships tend to suffer a whole host of mental health ailments. The people we spend the most time with can build us up or break us down. a3 It is also why people from dysfunctional families tend to develop anxiety, depression, and other disorders. Our relationships have a direct impact on our mental health. This is why it is so important to be choosy with who you allow into your life. Who we have relationships with is indeed a CHOICE. It is a choice to keep unhappy relationships in our lives. a5 It is also a choice to manufacture problems in a relationship. There are ways of behaving that we bring into our relationships that can either enable healthy, happy relationships or destroy our relationships.
Seven Caring Habits Seven Deadly Habits
1 .Supporting 1. Criticizing
2 .Encouraging 2 .Blaming
3. Listening 3. Complaining
4. Accepting 4. Nagging
5. Trusting 5. Threatening
6 .Respecting 6. Punishing
7. Negotiating differences 7 .Bribing, rewarding to control
I ask you to reflect on your behavior in your relationships. Which side of this chart do you find your behavior is more aligned with? When it comes to our relationships, far too many of us are winging it! We are on autopilot without any conscious thought to how we approach the people we love in our lives. In choice theory, the emphasis is placed on the individual. Personal responsibility is at the forefront. We, and we alone, are responsible for our behavior. An underlying assumption of the theory is that we cannot change other people and that the only thing we can control is ourselves. Again, you may be thinking that this sounds obvious – of course, we can’t change other people! But the reality is many of us are always trying! Control. It can become a problem for us if we begin to lose control of ourselves and attempt to exert control over others. As long as we insist on controlling people around us, we will create completely unnecessary suffering in our lives. Often when we are upset, instead of looking at how we are feeling and behaving we look at others. The most unhappy people point the fingers at others for their pain and unhappiness. a7 Many times, the way people try to remedy relationship problems is by attempting to change others. But what if we instead focused on changing ourselves? Something we can actually be successful at. If we change our behavior, it will certainly impact the response we get from others. ab.jpg If you want to have happy, healthy, enduring relationships you need to look at YOUR behavior and how you behave in your relationships. Is your behavior driving people towards you or driving people away from you?

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in seeking counseling with me:


Erin Doyle Theodorou, M.Ed, LPC, NCC


590 Franklin Ave.

Suite 2

Nutley, NJ 07110