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The Dangers Of Living Inside Your Head – And How To Get Out

The Dangers Of Living Inside Your Head – And How To Get Out

How often do you listen to that little voice inside your head?

You know the one – that little narrator that talks to you all day long?

You can probably actually hear it right now if you stop and listen for a second…

It tells you that you’re being too ridiculous, or dramatic, or picky, or too sensitive, or not sensitive enough… the voice that has an opinion on absolutely everything?

That voice can be great at times, it can even be a life saver!

But it can also be toxic.

When you live inside your head too much, you start to believe your own bullsh*t. 

You really are your own worst critic. And the danger is, sometimes you can start to honestly believe what you are thinking is true.

Sometimes you don’t realise just how much you are living inside your head.

I know this because I’ve been there…

Many years ago I convinced myself at a young age that because my Dad left my Mum that meant that any partner I would ever have would end up leaving me… Seriously…

Sounds silly right? But somehow my mind made it real.

I would actually end up jeopardising my relationships because I didn’t want them to leave me – so I left them first.

How stupid is that?!

But in my mind it was the truth.

It wasn’t until I ventured outside of my head and spoke to someone about it, actually opened up and sought another opinion, that I realised what I had been doing to myself for so many years.

I realised just how powerful my thoughts were.

So now I must ask you a question – “how positive is your relationship with the voice inside your head?”

Because we all have one – good or bad.

But what you need to pay attention to is how influential your inner voice is to you.

How does it influence your decisions?

Are you able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s simply your inner-critic’s opinion?

When life gets you down, are you able to turn that negative voice inside your head into something positive?

Having lived with breathing problems and panic attacks over the last few years, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt – it’s that I have to deal with any frustration, anxiety, or bad feelings as they come, so they don’t start to fester and eat away at me slowly from the inside.

The longer I worry or dwell on any bad thoughts, the worse they seem to get.

So for a long time I wasn’t able to control the tone of the voice inside my head and I let it knock me around a lot.

“You can’t do this… they don’t like you… why would you even try you’re just going to fail…?”

Thoughts like this would constantly drift around inside my head until I truly started to believe them.

That’s the dangerous part… you start to believe your thoughts are real and not just mere thoughts, they become something they’re not – facts.

And once I started believing these negative ‘facts’ I would often go quiet (on the outside).

I wouldn’t share what was going on inside my mind with anyone because I genuinely thought that no one would want to hear it.

But please don’t let your mind do this to you.

I promise you, you can take back control of your thoughts and turn that voice inside your head into a positive influence.

It just takes a bit of practice, patience and self-control.

Any time I notice that the voice in my head is playing tricks on me again… I do the following:

Get it out
One of the reasons I write these blogs is to help others, but it turns out it also helps me by writing things down and getting thoughts out of my head.
Writing really is therapeutic.
If I’m really angry with someone but don’t know if I want to confront them about it, I’ll write them a letter with everything I want to say and then later decide if I still want to say it. At least then it is outside of my head. I’m the kind of person who lives in my head a lot, and often find that once I write down how I’m feeling, or what I’m thinking, it is never as bad as I thought.

Find something that makes you happy
I absolutely love music and you can often tell what kind of mood I’m in by what I’m listening to.
I’ve created a ‘happy’ playlist, and an ‘inspiring’ playlist to help pick me up when I’m not feeling the best.
I also love animals, so just being around them can instantly make me smile.

Replace any bad thoughts in your head with positive ones
I have to actually boss my brain sometimes – tell myself that I am in control of what goes on inside my head.
Don’t even approach bad thoughts.
Don’t try to rationalise them.
Don’t even think about them.
And definitely don’t dwell on them.
Any of the above is a passive reaction to the negative thought, hence making you feel the negative feelings that follow, which doesn’t help at all. So replace the bad thought on the spot.

Surround yourself with good people
Spending time with good friends or family who cheer me up is one of my favourite things to do when I’m upset.
I’m the kind of person that will always be there whenever someone needs to vent, and having people that will do the same for me in my life is truly one of the things I am most thankful for.

Focus on what you want in your life
What do you really want to achieve in your life?

I want to be successful.
I want the world to be better because I was here.
I want to make a difference in people’s lives.
When I think about what really drives me and what I’ve been put on this earth to do, I get really motivated and all the other stuff seems to become irrelevant.

At the end of the day, everyone has stuff to deal with.

We all have times when life gets difficult and we don’t understand why.

But when this happens, just breathe and remember it’s not the end of the world.

Your thoughts are not in control of you – you control them.

‘You are not your thoughts – you are the awareness behind them.’

Just remember that everything in this life is temporary (both the good and the bad) so the bad times won’t last forever and who knows what amazing opportunities lie ahead for you in your life.

If you liked this article, please share it with others.

If you would like to learn more about the online workshops we offer for reducing stress, improving relationships and learning to communicate with others in a way that people respond positively to, then click here.


What Do You Do With Too Much Time on Your Hands?

What Do You Do With Too Much Time on Your Hands?

Everybody’s always complaining about how busy they are. Stressed out, running around, too much to do, no time to relax.

Yet, the opposite problem exists for many people. They have too much time on their hands. Nothing to do and all day to do it. And, that’s not just retired or unemployed folks. It’s also working people who don’t know how to spend their time off.  So what do they do? They keep working.  Surprisingly, more than half of Americans don’t take all their paid vacation days.

Clearly, no one likes being stressed out, with no time to relax or do what they want to do.  That’s why we crave leisure time. A break from work — yay! A break from household tasks — whoopee! A break from childcare — wow, time for myself!

What makes leisurely pursuits so enjoyable is their break from regular responsibilities. But when we have nothing to look forward to for the day, for the week, for the month, leisure time is anything but enjoyable. It’s unnerving. It makes us uneasy. It makes us feel unnecessary. And it is oh, so boring.

With too much time on your hands, not only do you feel bored but you probably also feel lonely, anxious, angry and depressed. And, if you are living with others, it’s so easy to point fingers of blame (“we never do anything”). Let’s face it, most people simply don’t know what to do with themselves when they are alone (or with a partner), when they have no structured activity or scheduled socializing.

Recognizing what you’d like to do, initiating the event, and then following through with making it happen is hard to do on your own. Hence, people have a tendency to while away their leisure time with passive activities — such as watching TV, playing video games, drinking or sleeping the day away.


All leisure time activities are not the same in value either. Those that have the highest potential for making us feel joyful and jubilant are those that are active, such as participating in games, sports, hobbies, travel and socializing. This is true whether you have a weekend off, a summer off, are independently wealthy or are fully retired.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of the best-selling book Finding Flow, says that most people feel happiest when they are “fully involved in meeting a challenge, solving a problem or discovering something new. Most activities that produce flow — a peak feeling of happiness — come from being fully involved in something, focusing our attention and making demands on our skills.”

Though many people would agree that such activities improve their mood, they still frequently fall into passive pursuits. Why should this be so? The answer is clear. It takes more time, energy and thought to schedule a tennis game with friends than to flip on the TV. Even if you’re planning a solitary activity, like taking a stroll on the boardwalk, you have to organize yourself to dress right, drive there, park and get motivated to walk. It’s not a major production to do, yet it’s still much easier to not bother and let the time go by passively.

If, when you have leisure time, you feel more listless and lethargic than rested and relaxed, it’s time to get going. Stop taking the easy road. Instead, push yourself or gently pull yourself forward. Get involved in activities that require movement, learning and/or socializing.

As your mood improves, your outlook on life will blossom. Then you’ll realize you no longer have too much time on your hands. Nor, will you be “crazy busy.” Happily, you and your free time will be dancing in tandem.


The power of love: how relationships benefit body and mind

The power of love: how relationships benefit body and mind

“All you need is love,” sang the Beatles. When one considers the widely documented health benefits of being in a happy relationship, they might have been on to something. In this spotlight, we take a look at the health reasons for celebrating being with someone.

Couple kissing.

Research has demonstrated a myriad of health benefits – physical, mental and emotional – associated with being in an affectionate relationship.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, many people fortunate enough to find themselves in relationships will be preparing for a day of celebration. The health conscious may look at boxes of chocolates and meals in restaurants warily, but it is worth remembering that outside of these indulgences, a wealth of health benefits have been identified for people in relationships.

Many will be aware that sex is a form of exercise, increasing the heart rate and reaching an average peak at orgasm comparable to forms of light exercise, such as walking upstairs. It is also fine for people with heart disease to have sex, so long as they can still do equivalent activities (such as walking up two flights of stairs) without experiencing chest pain.

Outside of this, though, several other health benefits arise from being in a relationship. And being in a loving relationship is not simply a bed of roses; different types of relationship have their own effects. We investigate.

Put a little love in your heart

The heart is one of the most conspicuous symbols of love, and perhaps it is unsurprising that love is associated both literally and figuratively with one the most important organs in the human body. With February being American Heart Month, it seems prudent to examine the less obvious benefits to the heart first.

Research has indicated that being in a satisfying relationship can lead to improved survival rates after coronary bypass surgery – an aggressive treatment for heart disease. The effects of satisfaction were reported to be just as important to survival as traditional risk factors, such as obesity and tobacco use.

This finding may have been due to happy relationships encouraging healthful behavior, such as quitting smoking and keeping fit.

Less active displays of intimacy than sex can also be beneficial to cardiovascular health. One study found that couples holding hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20-second hug had healthier reactions to a public speaking task than participants who merely rested quietly.

The couples that had brief warm social and physical contact exhibited lower heart rates, lower blood pressure and smaller increases in heart rate, with results comparable for men and women.

“These findings suggest that affectionate relationships with a supportive partner may contribute to lower reactivity to stressful life events,” write the authors. The implication from the study is that affectionate relationships could be related to better cardiovascular health.

Hypertension can be dangerous, leading to serious conditions including heart failurestroke and heart attack. Research has also found that it can increase the risk of cognitive decline later in life. However, lowering blood pressure is not the only aspect of being in a relationship that benefits cognitive functioning.

Always on your mind

Sex has also been found by researchers to improve mental health. A small study of 46 men and women suggested that like other forms of physical activity, sex reduces levels of stress.

Researchers conducted stress tests involving acts such as doing mental arithmetic out loud, finding that people who had sex coped better with stress than participants that had no sex at all.

A person’s sense of well-being can also be improved by sex. A much larger study of 3,000 people aged 57-85 demonstrated that those who were having sex rated their health much more favorablythan those who were not.

In this study, it was not just sex that led to improved well-being, but being in a satisfying relationship overall. The researchers found that participants in close relationships were more likely to report they were in “excellent” or “very good” health, rather than merely “good” or “poor.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, thinking positively in this manner could lead to further health benefits, including reductions in the risk of the following:

  • Common cold
  • Depression
  • Distress
  • Overall mortality.

Dr. Larry J. Young, of Emory University in Atlanta, GA, told Medical News Today that the benefits to health and well-being that come from being in a relationship are best understood from seeing what happens when a relationship is lost, either by death or splitting up:

“Loss of a loved one (e.g. spouse or romantic partner) leads to an increase in mortality, immune suppression, cardiovascular disease and depression.”

Love is not the same for everyone

It should be pointed out that no one seems to experience love in precisely the same way as everyone else. We are all drawn to different kinds of people and expect many different things from a relationship. It should not be surprising, for this reason, that the health implications of love also vary.

Happy affectionate couple hugging.

Could levels of affection and attachment style determine the health benefits couples receive from their relationship?

Recently, MNT reported on a study investigating the effects of attachment style on pain relief. Adult attachment style refers to patterns exhibited by individuals in relationships related to how they seek or avoid closeness.

Typically, the presence of a partner in a painful situation would be considered comforting and a relief, yet this was not the case for every participant in the research.

In a small study of 39 women, “moderately painful” laser pulses were administered to the participants’ fingers while their romantic partner was present and then absent. The authors found that the more women were avoidant of closeness in their relationships, the more pain they experienced when their partner was present.

The authors concluded that “partner presence may not have beneficial effects on the experience of pain when the individual in pain is characterized by higher attachment avoidance.” The presence of others may disrupt the preferred method of coping with “the threat value of pain” for such individuals.

For the women reporting high closeness with their partner, it may be oxytocin – a hormone sometimes referred to as “the love hormone” – that could be responsible for their experiencing reduced levels of pain.

Lead author Dr. Charlotte Krahé told MNT they believed that oxytocin might be part of a neurobiological mechanism involved in shaping the effects of interacting with close others on the pain experience.

Oxytocin has been associated by researchers with parts of the brain that are involved in emotional, cognitive and social behaviors. Acts of intimacy, such as sexual intercourse, holding hands and looking into another person’s eyes, stimulate the release of oxytocin in men and women. The hormone is produced in larger amounts in mothers when they are giving birth or nursing.

In an article published in Nature, Dr. Young suggests that long-term bonding between mates may be regulated by the same mechanisms as those involved in maternal bonding.

Oxytocin “interacts with the reward and reinforcement system driven by the neurotransmitter dopamine – the same circuitry that drugs such as nicotine, cocaine and heroin act on in humans to produce euphoria and addiction,” he writes.

“I think this is the only reason that we do hug and touch each other all the time. I think this is the mechanism that keeps oxytocin levels high in relationships,” says Dr. Rene Hurlemann, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Bonn in Germany.

Addicted to love, and then withdrawal

“We have evidence that it is the withdrawal from oxytocin after social loss that leads to the depressive side effects, at least based on our studies in monogamous prairie voles,” Dr. Young told MNT.

A giggling nun.

A study of nuns has demonstrated that romantic relationships and sex are not required for good health and long life.

In a paper published in Psychopharmacology in 2012, Dr. Young and James P. Burkett reviewed research on drug addiction alongside research on social attachments. “The psychology of human love and drug addiction share powerful overlaps at virtually every level of the addictive process, from initial encounters to withdrawal,” the authors conclude.

Oxytocin was found to play a modulatory role in many aspects of drug addiction, along with additional roles in the processing of memories and information involved in social attachment.

The association between oxytocin and addiction was explored further last year in research conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia. The study suggested that poor development of oxytocin during early childhood could explain why some individuals succumb to addictive behavior.

Dr. Young and Burkett state that the overlaps in the psychology of human love and drug addiction suggest that forms of treatment for one domain may be effective in another. “[For] instance, treatments used to reduce drug cravings may be effective in treating grief from the loss of a loved one or a bad breakup,” they write.

These findings suggest that further research into the neurobiological mechanisms of love could reveal ways in which its positive healthful effects could be brought to people that find themselves without it.

Not all doom and gloom for single people

Single people can feel quite downhearted around Valentine’s Day, being surrounded by people experiencing a joy that, at that moment in time, eludes them. Reading about these examples of health benefits for happy and affectionate couples may well contribute toward to this.

It is not all doom and gloom for single people, however. Research has found that having a good network of friends can have many of the same positive effects as being in a relationship.

One study of 1,500 people aged over 70 found that participants who reported having strong friendship groups tended to live longer than people with fewer friends. The authors suggested that this finding could be due to friends having a positive influence on lifestyle choices.

Despite all the health benefits that sex provides, research has also demonstrated that a life of celibacy can also be one that is long and healthy. A longitudinal study of 678 nuns aged 75-107 found many participants maintaining an active lifestyle and demonstrating strong cognitive function well into old age.

So, while there is much to celebrate about being in a relationship around Valentine’s Day, it is by no means the be-all-end-all, especially when looking from a health perspective. Good health and long life can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what their relationship status is.


Gaming Can Make A Better World

Gaming Can Make A Better World


Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.

The Power Of Vulnerability

The Power Of Vulnerability

Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.

The 7 Signs of Narcissism & How to Spot Them

The 7 Signs of Narcissism & How to Spot Them


Narcissism has become a mainstream news topic – but reading about it online does little to educate you on how to spot the signs. In this episode, Dr. Ramani provides actionable insight on what narcissistic personality disorder looks like – the 7 signs of narcissism – and what to do when you recognize them. She answers… What are the 7 signs of narcissism? What are some real-life examples of each symptom of narcissistic personality disorder…

In my significant other?

In a co-worker or boss?

In my friend?

What does life look like for a narcissist?

What steps should I take if I think my friend or loved one is showing signs of narcissism?

If you haven’t watched the beginning of this series yet, watch episodes 1-3 HERE: “This is Why Narcissism is the “Secondhand Smoke” of Mental Health: “Narcissistic Personality Disorder vs. Self-Confidence: What You Need to Know”: Are Narcissists Born or Made? Causes of the Disorder & More:

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