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3 Games People Play to Avoid Taking Responsibility

games people play


We often play many games between ourselves and others.

But by “games” I don’t mean sports, or video games, or board games. Instead “games” are a form of dishonest communication – usually with ulterior motives involved.

In Eric Berne’s influential work Games People Play, a “game” is defined as a set of ulterior transactions with some type of payoff in the end. This “payoff” doesn’t have to be material – it can also be psychological or social.

Many times we aren’t even aware of the games we’re playing on a daily basis, because they are so embedded into our society and our way of thinking.

In this article, I go over 3 different games that we play to avoid taking responsibility. These games are based off of Eric Berne’s work, but I’ve modified some of them to better fit the theme of this article.

By becoming more aware of these games, you can hopefully do better at avoiding them in the future. To win these games, we often have to stop playing them.

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A Conversation Between Your Positive Self and Negative Self

positive self


We’re complex beings.

Often times there isn’t one singular self that makes us who we are, but many multiple selves that are tugging away simultaneously.

Whichever “self” wins the tug of war is the one that gets to choose how we respond to any given situation.

Sometimes our “positive self” wins. Sometimes our “negative self” wins.

Have you ever looked back on an experience and thought, “That wasn’t really me!” or “I don’t know what came over me?”

Those are likely the times when your “negative self” has won. And thus you try to disassociate yourself from the experience, and not identify yourself with it.

This can be a healthy way to reflect on ourselves.

When we recognize our “multiple selves” we can observe our thoughts and behaviors without needing to fully attach to them.

No single “self” defines who you are – they are all just pieces to a much bigger puzzle.

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How to Overcome Stereotype Threat: Looking Beyond Society’s Expectations

stereotype threat


We live in a world full of expectations.

Society often expects us to act a certain way and be a certain way depending on who we are and what the “norms” are in a particular culture. These are the stereotypes we all have to face to some degree.

Stereotype threat is when we fear conforming to these negative stereotypes, which often creates stress and anxiety that ends up causing us to act in a way that makes that stereotype into a reality.

For example, an African American may experience stereotype threat when taking an SAT or IQ test, because of the stereotype that African Americans are less intelligent than other people.

This stereotype causes unnecessary stress and anxiety, which then leads an individual to under-perform, making the stereotype become true.

Stereotype threat is a very powerful force in our society. People’s expectations of us can often become self-fulling, because we are unconsciously influenced to conform to these standards.

The more we give in to these stereotypes and let them occupy our mind, the more likely they are to influence us. Here are healthy steps to take to help reduce stereotype threat in your life.

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Why It’s Healthy to Reflect on Your Past Relationships

past relationships


Whenever we experience a fall-out or a break up with someone, we often have a natural tendency to reflect on that relationship.

Often it can be a painful process. We ruminate constantly about someone – staying up all night thinking about the mistakes we made, the negative signs we missed, and all the things we could’ve done differently to make it work.

As it turns out, this desire to reflect on our past relationships may not be such a bad thing after all.

According to one recent study, individuals who gave themselves time to reflect on their past relationships, and talk about them, had an easier time recovering than those who didn’t reflect.

While some people may like to jump from one relationship to another without a second thought, maybe it’s actually better to take a step back every now and then and evaluate what it is we really want going forward.

Your past relationships can be a tremendous resource of insight and information into the mistakes you made in the past, and how you can improve yourself in the future.

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Small Talk vs. Big Questions: How to Build a Deep Connection With Anyone

big questions


When I look back on my life, the times when I’ve built the deepest connections with people are when we just sit and talk about the “big questions” in life.

How do you picture a perfect society? What are your big goals in life? What do you think are your biggest strengths and weaknesses? What’s your favorite memory?

A popular study led by social psychologist Arthur Aron suggests that asking these “big questions” is an important aspect of building a deep connection with anyone, whether it be a lover or a friend.

In the experiment, they had individuals broken into a “small talk” group, where individuals just talked about everyday things, and a “big questions” group, where individuals were given a series of personal questions to ask each other.

It was discovered that those in the “big questions” group were far more likely to develop a deep connection with the other person. And many were willing to continue their relationship outside of the laboratory.

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