Monthly Archives: September 2013

Dealing with life’s tests: you’re not alone


Cory-Monteith-PicturesYesterday at the gym I was reading an old copy of People magazine. The cover story was about tragic death of Cory Monteith, the young, talented and vital star of the hit TV series Glee!  Cory died of a lethal combination of drugs and liquor in his hotel room in Vancouver. What was remarkable to me in the story was how split-up Cory’s life was. Friends and co-workers spoke about how easy-going and friendly he was on the set, how nice he was, how happy. But there was a whole other story going on behind the scenes. One that hardly anyone knew about. Drugs, rehab, life falling apart, and finally gone.

What I’ve seen over and over again in my long practice as a psychologist—particularly as one who focuses on performance and stress—is that when there’s so much disconnection between an outer (“great guy!”) and inner (drug addicted) life—the struggle to keep it all together is simply too much. Cory had been to rehab, people thought he was all better. But he wasn’t. He was either still suffering or he thought he could try it again. It’s speculation: we’ll never know.

What I do know is that if you’re finding it hard to deal with life’s tests don’t cover it up or hide it. Don’t try to medicate yourself (with drugs, alcohol or sex). Don’t try to deal with it alone. Reach out to someone—a family member, a friend, a clergy, a counselor. You don’t have to be lonely and suffering. You don’t have to keep up an image. You need to be yourself–all of you. No one’s perfect, everyone faces challenging tests. All the time,  It takes too much work to try to keep together  a split-up life. Ultimately it took Cory’s life. Get the help you need. Get connected. Now.

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Test anxiety: what to do about first exam panic

Turn "No!" into "Yes!"

Turn “No!” into “Yes!”

Tweets are screaming today about first exam panic: “About to take my first college exam,” “Literally panicking over my first test of the semester,” “Not looking forward to my first test in microbiology today.” All of them are crying for HELP! So here’s my best advice: (1) Put your focus on what you have to do, not what you don’t want to do. Everyone has to take a first test-whether it’s your first test in college, or the first test of the semester, here it is. “Not looking forward” already sets you behind a big dark 8-ball. You may not be looking forward to it but don’t spend any energy on that: you have to take the test. So put your focus on the test, and take it off of “not looking forward.” (2) Learn the tools for calming down. On this website I have posted the entire Chapter 4 of my book, Test Success! The chapter title is “How to Calm Down.” It has the three tools for calming down.

Read the chapter. Use the tools. These tools didn’t come out of my head: they are research driven. They work if you use them. In fact, they work even better if you practice with them. Let me know how it goes.

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