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Decisions decisions...

2 Aug 2016 5:00 PM - by Dr Ashlen San Ng

I like Aldi. The supermarket. I was thinking about why I’ve become a fan… Is it the slightly-too-dim lighting? The way half the stock is still in cardboard boxes? How if you forget to bring your own bag you stagger out of there, leaving a trail of falling groceries from cashier to car? Maybe it’s the randomness of the weekly sale stock… I was tempted to buy a chandelier there once – it was really good value and what I’ve always wanted... Then I realised: it simplifies my life by providing less choice. There is only one kind of big crunchy peanut butter, only one brand of prunes. So I just walk up, grab it, and move on. Hours of agony comparing different nutrition panels and packaging removed.

When it comes to first-world problems, choice paralysis is right up there. The greater the selection the longer it takes, and bigger the item the worse it gets – we can spend months deliberating about the right car to buy, years calculating if we’re in the right job, a lifetime wondering if we’re with the right partner… only to continue dwelling post-decision whether we’d made the best choice or if there’s something better around the corner. You've no idea how long it took me to find the right picture to go with this post. 

If you’re interested, there is an interesting book by Barry Schwartz on this called ‘The Paradox of Choice’. He talks about this phenomenon of trying to ‘maximise’ in the face of abundant options – arduous research, feeling overwhelmed, getting stuck, making some decision but continuing to research, then inevitably regretting what you chose. It really begs the question whether more choice makes us happier. Studies done on this topic say ‘no’ and that actually, less choice makes people more decisive and happier with their decisions.

So what can we do about it?

Well, we can start by trying to actively streamline our lives; I know I’ve saved on mental energy since I started eating the same breakfast every morning, and despite not having a uniform wearing pretty much the same thing to work every day. And when decreasing the range of choice is not possible, rather than ‘maximising’, picking one thing, then consciously choosing to make the most of it and deliberately deciding to ignore alternative choices after that. Easier said than done, but maybe worth testing out for a week or so and see what you notice...

Decisions decisions...

2 Aug 2016 5:00 PM - by Dr Ashlen San Ng

I like Aldi. The supermarket. I was thinking about why I’ve become a fan… Is it the slightly-too-dim lighting? The way half the stock is still in cardboard boxes? How if you forget to bring your own bag you stag...

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A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Anxious Child or Teen

9 Mar 2016 2:01 PM - By Dr Bee Lim

myLife Psychologists provide treatment for anxiety to children and adolescents from our practices in Alexandria and Sydney CBD.


Even in the best of situations, children and ...

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How to Choose a Psychologist for Your Child

2 Mar 2016 4:25 PM - By Tal Schlosser

myLife Psychologists provide child and adolescent psychologists at our Inner West and CBD Sydney practices.


Finding a therapist for your child can feel daunting. Understandably, you ...

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Relationship Conflict: The Art of Repair

23 Jun 2015 2:11 PM - By Tal Schlosser

myLife Psychologists provides relationship & marriage counselling for couples and individuals. Visit us in our Sydney CBD or Alexandria practices.


All couples argue, b...

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Relationship Conflict: The Antidotes to the Four Horsemen

17 Jun 2015 3:46 PM - By Tal Schlosser


myLife Psychologists provides relationship counselling for couples and individuals. Visit us in Sydney CBD or at Alexandria.

In our previous blog we outlin...

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Relationship Conflict: The Four Horsemen

23 Apr 2015 6:31 PM - By Tal Schlosser

MyLife Psychologists provides couples counselling from our offices in Sydney CBD and Alexandria, as well as help for individuals experiencing difficulties in their interpersonal relationships.


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Surviving the Festive Season

17 Dec 2014 12:45 PM - By Tal Schlosser

For some people, the festive season is a happy and joyous time to connect with and enjoy the company of family and friends. However, for many it can also be a time of stress when unhelpful patterns of behavior are triggered and coping goes out ...

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Depression - Why aren't men getting help?

24 Oct 2014 9:00 AM - By Tal Schlosser

We’ve recently had Mental Health Week, a wonderful national initiative aimed at raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing, as well as reducing stigma and supporting people to get assistance. While acceptance of m...

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Managing life’s curve balls – The STOP technique

12 Aug 2014 11:10 AM - By Tal Schlosser

Life often throws us curve balls, and I was reminded of this the other day as I had to deal with a flat car battery, and suddenly my plans for the day were thrown out the window and I was left s...

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Building confidence

2 Jul 2014 2:23 PM - By Dr Claudia Cobon

All of us reach a point in our lives where we are faced with a task or situation where we just don’t feel confident. I know I certainly have faced many occasions where my mind came ...

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Mindfulness – bring on some inner peace please!

12 May 2014 4:00 PM - By Tal Schlosser

So I’m a week into my ‘Mindful In May’ challenge and as part of this I’ve been practicing mindfulness meditation for 30 minutes each day and trying to do a daily activity mindfully (e.g. showering or brushing my teeth).

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Beating Procrastination

10 Mar 2014 2:30 PM - by Dr Alex Sheffield

A few months back our practice manager Tal asked me to write a blog piece for our website, I agreed and ‘write blog’ appeared on my to-do list. Unfortunately it stayed on my to-do list until last week when in a ver...

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Comments: 1178

Gratitude - for the small stuff!

22 Aug 2013 6:00 PM - By Tal Schlosser

Recently life slapped me around with a whole lot of crap that unfortunately lasted for a good few months. This included a variety of illnesses that hit me hard (including the charming flu that seems to be doing the rounds of Sydney this winter)...

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Comments: 3

Clarify Your Values - What Do You Want to Stand For?

22 Jul 2013 7:00 AM - By Tal Schlosser

Most of us have thought about our goals at some point, but rarely do we take time to really think about how we want to be as a person, and to set goals that are consistent with this.

Russ Harris defines values as ‘desired qualitie...

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Cultivating Self-Compassion

13 Jul 2013 6:00 PM - By Tal Schlosser

If you already thought I bang on a lot about self-compassion I’m about to take it to a whole new level! I recently spent two days with the wonderful Paul Gilbert and Dennis Tirch in an intensive workshop on Compassion Focused Therapy, and...

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Building confidence

2 Jul 2014 2:23 PM - By Dr Claudia Cobon

All of us reach a point in our lives where we are faced with a task or situation where we just don’t feel confident. I know I certainly have faced many occasions where my mind came up with a multitude of reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do something:  “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll say the wrong thing”, “I’ll embarrass myself”.  Of course, on some occasions I got hooked in by those thoughts and stepped back from the goal; but on other occasions I was able to see that my mind was just trying to throw up obstacles and I could choose whether or not to listen to them. 

In his book “The Confidence Gap”, Dr Russ Harris explains that what we actually know about confidence is that the actions of confidence come before the feelings of confidence.  What this means is that we need to behave as if we are confident first and the actual feelings of confidence will eventually follow.

Use the steps below to start thinking about how you can build more confidence in your life.

Imagine confidence. Consider how things would be different if you had unlimited confidence. How would you walk, talk, act? How would you talk to yourself? How would you be with other people? How would your relationships change? What things would you start doing? What things would you stop doing?

Clarify your values. Values describe how you want to behave as a human being, what kind of qualities you want to cultivate and what principles you want to live by. They have no end point; you can choose to live by your values every day. Once you have identified your values you can then set goals to move a little closer to the way you would like your life to look. Your values can provide you with the motivation to achieve those goals, which can sometimes be quite daunting.

Check your self-talk. Listen to the way your mind talks to you – does it tell you things must be done perfectly? Does it criticise you and tell you that you are not competent enough, smart enough, good enough? What we know is that talking to ourselves in a critical way is not very helpful and actually serves to make us feel less motivated. A helpful way of looking at it is to think about how you would motivate or encourage a friend or family member. Try talking to yourself in a more compassionate way.

Practice mindfulness. As you move towards your goals your mind will want to veer you off track with unhelpful thoughts, memories and suggestions. Use mindfulness skills as a tool to help you unhook from unhelpful thoughts and refocus on what is important to you.

Keep practicing. Think about all the things that you can confidently do today. How did you learn to do these things? We know that becoming more skilled at something, whether it is learning a language, running a marathon or being in relationships takes practice, practice, practice! Identify the skills you need to work on and practice them by setting yourself achievable, realistic goals. 

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Mindfulness – bring on some inner peace please!

12 May 2014 4:00 PM - By Tal Schlosser
So I’m a week into my ‘Mindful In May’ challenge and as part of this I’ve been practicing mindfulness meditation for 30 minutes each day and trying to do a daily activity mindfully (e.g. showering or brushing my teeth). 

And it’s bloody hard! Finding the time to fit it in has been surprisingly tricky, not to mention falling asleep mid-way through the guided meditation or finding I’m mentally reviewing my to-do list instead of focusing on the sensations in my left big toe.

So what is this whole mindfulness thing about? You may have noticed the word popping up more in recent years and it has become a very hot topic in psychology. Put simply mindfulness is mental attention training – practicing noticing what you’re doing in the here-and-now with openness, curiosity and without judgment. 

And the science is telling us that if we practice mindfulness we’ll be on to a good thing. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, boost memory, improve focus, decrease emotional reactivity, improve cognitive flexibility and self-awareness, bolster the immune system, and it’s associated with relationship satisfaction and more engagement in life.

Sounds pretty good hey? For me, I’m already seeing the benefits – I’m far from having inner peace but I have noticed feeling calmer and being less reactive when life has gotten hectic. 

Keen to try a little mindfulness? Here are some tips to get started:
  • Download a mindfulness meditation app - it’s easier to follow along guided instructions if you’re a beginner (click here see for a review of the 10 best mindfulness apps in 2013).
  • Tune into your breath - at any time in the day take a minute to simply notice your breath; put your hands on your belly and observe the sensations as you inhale and exhale or notice the flow of air in and out of your nostrils. 
  • You can do anything mindfully - pick something you typically do quite mindlessly and see if you can bring present moment experience to it using your five senses (e.g. brushing your teeth, washing up, showering, making a cup of tea).
  • The more time you give it the better - start with 5 or 10 minutes a day and build up.
  • The hardest part is making time for it – set a time the day before or link it to a daily activity to help you remember.
  • Avoid trying to do it last thing before bed – the aim is to be alert not asleep!
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Managing life’s curve balls – The STOP technique

12 Aug 2014 11:10 AM - By Tal Schlosser

Life often throws us curve balls, and I was reminded of this the other day as I had to deal with a flat car battery, and suddenly my plans for the day were thrown out the window and I was left scrambling! As far as emotional upheavals go this was fairly minor thankfully, but I still found myself sitting there feeling pretty angry, frustrated and stressed about how the day was going to go.  At that point I realised I was getting wound up so I used a quick 2-minute technique that we often teach our clients, so I thought I would share it here too.

This is a fairly straightforward technique to use when you’re feeling difficult emotions to assist you to step back from the emotional intensity and get more of a birds-eye or helicopter perspective on the situation so that you can then handle it more effectively. The good thing is that it also only takes a couple of minutes! We use the acronym STOP to remember the steps:

S

Stop what you're doing and step back from the situation, in your own mind, and perhaps even by changing locations if you think that would be helpful. Give yourself at least 2 minutes to do the next steps.

T

Take ten breaths – slowly and mindfully. As best you can, commit to noticing the body sensations and changes with every inhale and exhale, either by focusing on the air coming in and out of your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest or belly.

O

Observe your internal experiences, without criticizing yourself and without trying to change what’s there. Can you label the emotions you’re feeling? Where do you feel these in your body? Are you aware of the qualities of these physical sensations (e.g. any movement like pulsing or throbbing, or temperature)? Are these sensations changing from moment to moment? 

P

Proceed – go back to the situation and take action in line with your values. You may not get a choice about what happens to you or what feelings get triggered, but you do get to choose your actions. You can choose whether you take action that brings you closer to or further from what’s really important to you and the kind of person you want to be in this life.

At the end of this exercise you may very well still experience strong emotions, particularly if life has thrown you a very unpleasant curve ball. The goal here is not to get rid of the difficult feelings, but rather to step back and get unhooked from them. Hopefully this will help you to gain another perspective so that you can have more choice about how you respond in the situation, rather than reacting in a default manner.