Are you your own worst

 grudge bearing, hostility, superstitions, OCD, codependent relationships, despair, low self-esteem, guilt, shame, perfectionism, obsession, sarcasm, junk food, unhealthy attachments, blame, resentment, binging, purging, hoarding, pessimism, jealousy,


We all seem to cling to familiar habits, even if in our logical minds we know that some of them are no good for us. After decades as a therapist helping people manage their lives more successfully, I’ve concluded that self-sabotage is part of the human condition; we all have attachments we’d be better off without. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if it’s food, the lottery, or a cult. In my writing, I set out to tackle the everyday face of irresistible urges, exploring root causes, personal struggles and the gift of recovery.

What’s stopping you from being your best self?

How many times have you promised yourself to straighten out?

Why is it so hard to achieve the growth you want?

I understand these challenges and offer you a two-step program to finally let go of unwanted habits:

  • Uncover the source of your weaknesses
  • Make lasting changes in your behavior


Enslaved: Ten Men and Women Recount Stories of Addiction

Enslaved: Ten Men and Women Recount Stories of Addiction

A compendium of the personal stories of ten recovering addicts. Dr. Katz gives voice to ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, offering a nonjudgmental glimpse into what individuals are willing to do in the service of their irresistible urges.

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When Sane People Do Insane Things

When Sane People Do Insane Things

A practical guide to the enrichment of mental health. The book elaborates on what is essential and what is hazardous, offering the reader an opportunity to help himself reach the most precious gift: a life well-lived.

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My Last Summer as a Fat Girl

My Last Summer as a Fat Girl

In her memoir, Dr. Katz opens up about the events that have given her life its miraculous shape. She invites the reader on a personal journey as she investigates the powerful role food has played in her biography.

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Professor Amia Lieblich review

“It is so easy to look at addicts and write them off, because why would anyone intentionally use drugs, self-harm, or alcohol to solve their problems? Hearing their stories… made their choices understandable. Were they good choices? No, but they all had good reasons for looking to these less-than-ideal solutions.”

Literature Approved
Love and Kisses from my Padded Cell

Professor Amia Lieblich review

“In an animated and revealing dialogue with her readers, Dr. Ellie Katz steers us towards self-examination… This is a book that, in my opinion, presents a substantive path to mental health in the twenty-first century.”

Professor Amia Lieblich
When Sane People Do Insane Things

“A source of hope for those who are addicted to let them know they aren’t alone in their struggle… If you know or love someone who is addicted to something this is a good book to read to begin to understand how they may have come to be that way and open up a dialogue with them.”

Mandy’s Book Reviews
Love and Kisses from my Padded Cell

“This book is different from other books …[it] is just raw truth. … The author shares … daily struggles she went through and how those struggles evolved over time…It’s in books like this where real change can take place…”

My Last Summer as a Fat Girl

“[Dr. Katz] is inspiring because she has figured out something we all want to know. We all have skeletons in our closets we need to face. I certainly have my own.”

Kelly’s Thoughts on Things
My Last Summer as a Fat Girl


Dr. Ellie Katz is a leading practitioner of holistic psychotherapy. For the last forty years, her eclectic interventions have featured innovative approaches to using meditation, guided thinking and the Bach Flower Remedies. Dr. Katz has lectured at Einstein/Montefiore Medical Center, the University of Istanbul, First Beijing Medical Center, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has been a senior staff member at the Retorno rehab facility since 2003.


Sep 1, 2022

Coming of age

About a month ago, I was fortunate to host the bar mitzvah of my eldest grandchild. This is a coming-of-age event with a long history in Jewish tradition; from this moment in a young man’s life, he is considered an...

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Aug 1, 2022


Last month, I talked about the value of recognizing when you’ve hurt others, admitting your fault, and asking for a second chance. This is an important part of spiritual growth. Having said all that, I now want to...

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Jul 1, 2022

Second chances

Much of the content of this blog circles around the topic of what it means to try to be better than you are or to try to reach some kind of spiritual refinement. Today, I want to talk about a variation on this theme:...

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Jun 1, 2022

Trying new things

Many of my blog posts have been loyal to the enormous importance of change as a mechanism for getting the life you want. Change is vitally important when you have become dissatisfied with certain aspects of your...

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May 1, 2022

Spring cleaning

Last month, Jews all over the world celebrated the holiday of Passover. According to tradition, this holiday commemorates our people’s emancipation from Ancient Egypt, where we had been enslaved for generations. On...

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Apr 1, 2022


A friend was telling me about her son recently, a little boy with a reputation for being a terrible sourpuss. The other children on the block all know this about him; it would be hard for them not to notice. He is...

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Mar 1, 2022

Open yourself up to being inspired

Inspiration is an important root source of change. If you’re in the market for growth and improvement, it is a fabulous learning instrument. Just being in the proximity of impressive people can inspire you to reach for...

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Feb 1, 2022

A new way to see yourself

Note: Some updates were made recently to the website that may have resulted in an old blog post being sent out last month instead of the newest one. My apologies for this error. If you would like to read last month’s...

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Jan 2, 2022

Hurt feelings

At a family get-together, two cousins are catching up. The boy is ten years old; the girl is nine. They haven’t seen each other in some time, since their families don’t live close to one another. The boy says, “Where’d...

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Dec 2, 2021

The Golden Rule

After last month’s post on the importance of compassion, I’d like to follow up with some elaboration on how to go about developing this quality for yourself.As I discussed previously, many of us exist in a kind of...

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Nov 5, 2021


Do you think you’re a compassionate person? Most people, if you asked them, would probably say that compassion is a good thing, and that being compassionate is a trait to strive for. But how much have you actually...

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Sep 2, 2021

Being indecisive

How many decisions do you make in a day? Small decisions, big decisions, life-changing decisions. You wake up in the morning, and right away, you need to decide what to wear. Should you go with a bright blue or stick...

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Aug 1, 2021

The dangers of boredom

Until coronavirus, I didn’t know how viciously insufferable boredom is for me. In the normal course of events, I’ve always had plenty to do: working with my clients, writing my books with my editor and writing coach,...

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Jul 1, 2021


Are you someone who always has to get your own way? How does it make you feel when someone disagrees with you about the best way to act in a given situation? How do you fare with a request to somewhat inconvenience...

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Jun 1, 2021

The real meaning of confidence

Underlying the whole project of personal growth is confidence – some healthy belief in yourself and your abilities. Self-improvement requires much effort. Habits are by nature hard to break, and change rarely comes...

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May 2, 2021

Jealousy and resentment

In this month’s post, I want to talk about resentment. Resentment can start with a perfectly valid grievance. Maybe you were a younger sibling in a home where the older sibling was given privileges that you weren’t. He...

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Apr 1, 2021

Getting rid of negative self talk

​Let’s say you promise yourself to start your day, every day for a month, with five minutes of stretching exercises. It seems like a good, healthy choice, one that is clearly attainable, certainly not impossible to...

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Mar 2, 2021

Rigorous self-examination

Imagine that your partner suggests going to see a certain movie. You recognize the name from the posters you’ve seen all over town, which look sickeningly sweet. Those kinds of movies are not really your genre, but the...

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Feb 1, 2021

The benefit of the doubt

When I was in high school, I knew a girl a few towns over—let’s call her Marci—with a fabulous, effervescent personality. I don’t think she ever stopped smiling. She was a cheerleader and in the student government for...

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Jan 3, 2021

Toxic Shoulds

A young neighbor of mine recently turned to me for advice. Her ten-year-old son has been acting out so badly, the school calls every week to complain about his lack of cooperation. At home, he’s nasty to his brother...

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Dec 11, 2020

Dedicated to personal growth

I had a long talk recently with a very close friend of mine. For decades, he’s struggled with a nasty but mild form of self-injury that is shared by millions: the compulsion to pick at his scabs. He rationalizes it by...

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Nov 5, 2020

Four reasons you might need a new therapist

It’s not always easy to find the therapist of your dreams. You may think you have a lead on someone amazing—maybe your friend has been working with a new practitioner, and the improvements are plain to see. She’s...

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Sep 1, 2020

Bad day getting you down?

We all have days when nothing feels right. Anything and everything gets on our nerves, from our spouses reminding us to call the plumber to the cheerful greetings of our coworkers. We’re not interested in socializing,...

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Aug 2, 2020

The spiritual component in these times

This coronavirus stuff is really getting to me. I try not to think about it too much, but that’s not realistic. It just seems every time I turn on the news, I’m bombarded by statistics – those relevant to my life in...

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Jul 1, 2020

The uncertainties of recovery

I said my farewells recently to a patient who’s been with us for the last eight months. His family sent him to us to straighten him out because his lifestyle was impossible. He was a thief, a drug dealer, and kept...

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Jun 3, 2020


Because of the business I’m in, I have daily encounters with emotionally and cognitively bruised individuals. I’m talking here about people who have something in their pasts, ancient or recent, that emotionally...

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May 4, 2020

In these crazy times

I have not stepped foot on the ground of my clinic at the rehab for forty days – the duration of Noah’s flood. Little did I know, when I last locked my door a month ago, that I would not be coming back to see my...

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Apr 1, 2020

Save the planet

Last month, we had plans to go to America. As the date of our trip drew closer, however, people started getting more and more hysterical about coronavirus. At first, we thought the choice of whether or not to take the...

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Mar 2, 2020

Happiness and the addict’s thinking

Last Wednesday, in a group session, one of my patients described the joy he felt shooting pure cocaine into his veins. Oy vey, I thought. What am I supposed to do with this? I had no personal experience with cocaine,...

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Feb 3, 2020

Thoughts from a funeral

I went to the funeral of a remarkable man recently: Professor Shlomo Eckstein, who was cherished by the multitudes. I was one mourner among hundreds of people who came to pay their last respects. The eulogies were...

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Jan 2, 2020

My plants

My followers, please don’t judge me, but I grew up in Scarsdale. We had a gardener who kept the property looking lovely; every Sabbath, the florist in town delivered sweet, little flower arrangements. These were the...

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Dec 10, 2019

Surviving the hard times

What a rip-off. Forty-seven years of daily meditation, and I still find myself in a whirlpool of impatience. I can’t believe it. I should have this down pat by now, and yet I’ve gotten myself into a situation where I...

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Nov 20, 2019

Uh oh, a crossroads

Oh boy, oh boy. I’m in a pickle. I can’t recall, in the last few decades, ever having a dry spell in which I was not passionate about a writing project. It doesn’t feel good to be in this position. It upsets me not to...

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Oct 5, 2019


[responsivevoice]I have of late been approached by several patients to do one-on-one sessions, specifically focused on helping them extricate themselves from the grip of past trauma. Every individual is unique when it...

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Sep 8, 2019

Finishing at last

[responsivevoice] A little over thirty years ago, I wrote what I thought was a finished novel. I created characters I adored; I had a ball setting them up for profound challenges and creating a vehicle for solutions. I...

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Aug 16, 2019

Old dogs, new tricks

[responsivevoice]If you follow this blog, you’re probably aware that I’ve written several books about my work, my philosophy of mental health, and the psychological insights I’ve gained from my own experiences. I wrote...

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Jul 1, 2019

Working with my hands

[responsivevoice]I’m not sure I’ve ever articulated this before on the blog, but I’m someone who does very little with her hands. While I’m married to an artist who is interminably, inevitably in a state of manual...

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Jun 2, 2019

In the Line of Fire

[responsivevoice]In my memoir, My Last Summer as a Fat Girl, I explored my past with overeating and basically came to a place of stability. In general, I feel safe enough with any kind of food to taste it and enjoy it...

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May 1, 2019

Old friends

[responsivevoice]On a recent trip to America to visit family and friends, I yet again realized how important it is to nurture old ties. I’m all for new acquaintances and encounters (hell, I’m the friendliest person I...

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Apr 18, 2019

Crossing the line

[responsivevoice]I am a staunch advocate of creating imaginary lines around our thoughts and behaviors. By this, I mean that it is important to recognize and firmly establish boundaries that we can’t cross if we want...

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Mar 1, 2019


[responsivevoice]Of late, many of my patients have been talking to me about their medications: how it’s taking too long to get them back to a stable mood, how they’re not deriving the benefits. How they feel like...

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Feb 2, 2019


[responsivevoice]Thirty-five years ago, while I was pregnant with my fourth child, my good friend Ziva  was on a visit from the States and shared with me that she had been studying Robert Fritz’s ideas about how to...

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Jan 1, 2019


[responsivevoice]As I sit down to write this, I have a vague recollection that last year, I wrote a blog post about the love of a dog. I advise anyone reading this to go back to what I wrote then. It’s as true today as...

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Dec 4, 2018


[responsivevoice]Although my official birthday is 12/12, according to the Jewish calendar, it often falls in November. That’s why I celebrated turning seventy towards the end of last month, with family and friends....

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Nov 7, 2018


[responsivevoice] For the last 35 years, I have explored the value of the Bach Flower Remedies to address the emotional component in psychological and physical illness. My beloved, dearly departed friend Stephanie sent...

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Oct 17, 2018


[responsivevoice] I made a special detour a few weeks ago to visit the rehab on my day off. t seemed one of our young ladies, a patient given to high drama, had decided she wanted out. She was adamant about going back...

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Sep 2, 2018

Getting ready for the Jewish New Year

[responsivevoice]Well, boys and girls, it’s that time of the year again, when my Jewish brothers and sisters and I take stock. For those of us who want to refine our characters, this is The Time to do it. Instead of...

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Aug 1, 2018

Owning up to behavior patterns

[responsivevoice] Yesterday I introduced the subject of behavior patterns to several groups that I was working with at the rehab. Know thyself; it is vitally important to know what your patterns are, what behaviors and...

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Jul 1, 2018

If I Had a Magic Wand

[responsivevoice] About ten years ago, I compiled an arsenal of props that I kept in a bag in my office at work:  a black pointed hat from a witch's costume, an amazing array of hand puppets, a mirror, and a magic wand...

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Jun 1, 2018

Not waiting around for inspiration

[responsivevoice] Of late, I have been working with my groups at the rehab on the notion that ultimately, if we want to get better, we don’t need to wait for inspiration to hit us. It’s entirely possible that we can be...

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May 1, 2018

I am waiting for the end of cruelty

[responsivevoice] Recently, I noticed a few articles about an astronomical event that predicted the coming of the Messiah on April 23. The idea is sensational to me. As a Jew, I’m not picturing the Second Coming of...

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Apr 9, 2018

Politics: What can I do about it?

[responsivevoice]Don’t ask me about politics. As a psychologist, the work I do focuses mainly on thoughts and feelings. I help people reach new heights of flexibility, losing rigid attachments to an idea of how things...

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Mar 1, 2018

Why would you deliberately hurt yourself?

[responsivevoice]Life is hard enough to begin with. The idea that you would maliciously hurt yourself seems baffling. Unfortunately, in my years working as a psychologist, I have encountered a vast number of acts of...

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Feb 1, 2018

Tooting my own horn

[responsivevoice]When I completed revisions on my first book, I was faced with a dilemma. I had written the book after being sent by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to lecture on mental health in China and Turkey. In...

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Jan 1, 2018

Alone but not lonely

[responsivevoice]Recently, I went to a repair shop to get my cell phone fixed. My friends and family had been complaining of late that when they called me, my voice sounded muffled and too quiet. It turned out that the...

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Dec 3, 2017

Qualifying for the spiritual olympics

[responsivevoice]Just came back yesterday from a three-day jaunt to the town of Uman in Ukraine, where a very important eighteenth-century Hassidic rabbi is buried, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. While I am not a Breslaver...

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Nov 9, 2017

What can I do to take care of myself?

[responsivevoice]Working at the rehab, I spend a lot of time helping my clients develop healthy avenues for ensuring good mood and serenity. I’m talking here about learning to protect their entire psychophysiology on a...

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Oct 16, 2017

Accepting my limitations

[responsivevoice]The other day, my car wouldn’t start. I got into the vehicle, la di da, ready to be on my way, and it simply wouldn’t turn on. My husband’s assistant came running, enthusiastic to give me a hand, but...

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Sep 14, 2017

Knowing what better looks like

[responsivevoice]I spend a lot of time working with my clients on change. Ostensibly, that’s the reason they’ve come to rehab. They cannot continue to expose themselves time after time to the ridiculous at best,...

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Aug 7, 2017

There must be SOMETHING about me that’s worthy…

[responsivevoice]At the rehab yesterday, I conducted an exercise in which the clients were instructed to begin a sentence with, “It’s hard for me…” One young lady’s response set the whole group off and running headlong...

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Jul 11, 2017

Obsessive attachments

[responsivevoice]The other day, in the group I was leading, I asked if any of the participants had an obsession or attachment they wanted to explore. The gentleman to my left, a weed-smoker for thirty years, said, “I...

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Jun 5, 2017

Unexpected challenges

Knocked down, but not knocked out. [responsivevoice]A year ago, I underwent cataract surgery on my right eye, otherwise known as my weak eye. Surgery went well. The anesthesia kept me comfortably in and out of reality,...

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May 13, 2017

Staring my fear down

[responsivevoice]I am readying myself psychically for a second cataract operation. Due to a variety of circumstances, I have waited a year between surgeries. The doctor who did the first procedure examined me a few...

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Apr 17, 2017

Holocaust Remembrance Day

[responsivevoice]Holocaust Remembrance Day is coming up, and I swear, the older I get, the more devastated I become as I watch the documentaries and hear the radio interviews of the aging survivors. It pains me to come...

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Mar 10, 2017

The love of a dog

[responsivevoice]Often, when I do guided thinking with my clients, I ask first if they love, hate or fear dogs. (Guided thinking is a therapeutic technique that involves me instructing my client to render forth an...

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Feb 6, 2017

Not my most impressive workshop

[responsivevoice]I was recently asked by a friend of mine, the director of a women’s seminary, to create a workshop for professionals in Jerusalem. I thought it would be a delightful opportunity to talk about some of...

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Jan 11, 2017

Generosity of spirit

[responsivevoice]On occasion, when I'm at work at the rehab, I look around and ask myself: How did I get into all this, anyway? I must admit that working with addicts is often a frustrating experience. Many times, I...

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Dec 7, 2016

When a moral compass is lacking

[responsivevoice]I have come to realize that some of my clients literally have no concept of right and wrong. They have no intrinsic moral code. Everything is okay and acceptable, sort of, when it suits them. They can...

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Nov 13, 2016

HOW do you want to be when you grow up?

[responsivevoice]It’s often asked of children, and some immature adults: What would you like to be when you grow up? Personally, I think a better question would be how you want to be. How would you like to be...

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Oct 9, 2016

The virtues of becoming your own cheerleader

Becoming your own cheerleader – it’s the best way of keeping motivated I can think of. [responsivevoice]I have noticed over the years that one of the reasons people quit when they’ve undertaken a challenge is that...

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