Clinical psychologist, writer. Editor of On the Couch: Practical psychology for everyday life. karen@onthecouch.co.nz

None of them is money.

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GPhoto by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

They’re not the richest.

They’re not the coolest.

They’re not the slimmest.

They’re not 24/7 infused with passion.

They just seem to be light of spirit. They just seem to put a light, easy vibe out in to the world. They make you feel like you want to be around them.

How do they do it?

The Happiest People

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” …


More relevant than ever in 2021.

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Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Winnie the Pooh is about to turn 100.

When English author A.A. Milne created him for his son Christopher Robin in the 1920s, it’s unlikely he thought his bear “of very little brain” would be relevant a century on.

But he is. In a world of unrest and turmoil — and frequently Great Unkindness — Winnie the Pooh can still stop the heart with his wisdom.

As Covid rages on, as CNN spews out its political updates, he can still take us to the sanctuary of the 100 acre wood; he can still make us think about the importance of friendship, love, courage — and honey. …


“There isn’t any such thing as an ordinary life.”
L.M. Montgomery

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Photo by Atlas Green on Unsplash; Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Being extraordinary seems like a big ask these days.

With a global pandemic and turmoil raging all around us, just getting through the day is a reason to throw a party.

But here’s the thing. Whatever happens out in the world, whether we do great things or nothing at all, we’re still getting older.

We’ve still got less time left on earth than we did yesterday.

And we still have to do something with it.

Why not be extraordinary?

But Extraordinary is Too Hard…

“It never failed to amaze me how the most ordinary day could be catapulted into the extraordinary in the blink of an eye.” …


It’s an emotional rollercoaster — but you’ll eventually grow from it.

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“Don’t hold your breath for anyone…” — Erin Hanson

All relationships have their challenges.

Some relationships fall into the difficult camp. And others are just plain toxic.

Here’s a guide to the emotional rollercoaster you’ll go through when you’re in a relationship with someone who has toxic or personality disordered thinking and behaviours.

Read it, knowing you can — and will — be okay on the other side. And, if you are on the other side, read it to validate all that you’ve been through.

1. Fascinating.

In the beginning they’ll be so, so interested in you. They’ll hang on to every word that drops from your lips, they’ll want ALL of your time, they’ll make you feel like the most fascinating person on earth. It’s incredibly seductive; don’t beat up on yourself for falling for it. You’re not alone: Many smart, secure people have been suckered by a toxic partner. …


You can come back from this.

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Photo: On the Couch

“Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything, tired with the world’s weight he had never chosen to bear.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

You’re tired.

Not just a little sleepy, but a deep, bone-weary fatigue you can’t seem to shake.

You go to the doctor, your blood tests come back normal. There’s nothing organically — physically — wrong. And yet. You know you’re way off your game.

Unexplained fatigue is a sign that you’ve hit stress overload, that you’re operating in the red light zone for your mental health. …


They also dictate your happiness in relationships.

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Photo: On the Couch

“If you would be loved, love, and be loveable.” — Benjamin Franklin

Who are you as a partner?

Can you answer that question fully and truthfully? Or does it cause you to scratch your head in confusion?

Everyone wants to get to know themselves better: it’s one of the key reasons people seek therapy or coaching.

But getting to know yourself as a partner adds another layer of complexity because it’s about digging into who you are in relation to someone else, along with all their traits, quirks, needs — and baggage.

It’s requires you to think about how you attach, how you fight, how you “do” intimacy, how you express your needs — and receive theirs. …


The way of thinking that will most enrich your life.

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Photo by Marc Najera on Unsplash

You want more from life?

Fair point. Most of us do, whether we say it out loud or not. More money, better health, more prestige or fame, more followers, more friends, more time, more freedom — whatever.

Whatever we want “more of” is personal. But there’s only one way to get it — or at least open ourselves to the possibility of getting it — and that’s to adopt an abundance mindset.

Most of us operate “in scarcity” which means we live smaller than we should: we see limits instead of possibility. We stay in the If Only lane.

If onlyI had my dream job, a six-figure income, a boat/car/bike, a better partner (or any partner), a hotter body. Then… my life would be awesome.


5 tips for dealing with the wreckage of heartbreak.

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Image by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

“The heart was made to be broken.” — Oscar Wilde

So you’ve joined The Breakup Club.

Maybe your split was sudden — a shock from left-field. Or maybe your relationship was on slow-burn decline, you knew the end was coming. And yet it still has you reeling with the finality of it.

Look, breakup is hard, it hurts. Especially if you’ve been together a while and separating means a huge change to your circumstances and the future you were planning.

But even if it was a holiday fling. Or you got ghosted after a flurry of hot ’n heavy text messages. Or you were the one who called time on it. …


And, for a lot of us, that means 2021.

“When everything seems to be against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” — Henry Ford

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

You know you can.

You know you have what it takes to smash it out of the park — lose weight, get ripped, run a marathon, save money, start a business, launch yourself creatively.

BUT you’re not quite ready. You’ve got too much going on. The world’s crazy, uncertain. You just don’t have the head space to focus on your goals.

Therapists hear this often: people desperately want to make changes but their plans keep getting derailed by the ongoing Stress of Life. …


If 2020 messed with you, you need to set goals.

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Photo by Julia Volk from Pexels

“At first glance, it may appear too hard. Look again. Always look again.” Maryanne Rodmacher

Reluctant to set goals this year?

I hear you. If pandemic-smashed 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the best laid plans can go belly up.

So it’s tempting to toss 2021 resolutions and goals aside. To say: why bother? I’ll just go with the flow. Stay Open. Flexible. Be ready to pivot.

Fair point. Being adaptable is the hallmark of resilience. It’s especially important in difficult times — it got a lot of us through 2020.

But there’s a difference between “going with the flow” and handing your personal power to fate. …

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