Author: Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen was the host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast from 2014 to 2019. She is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. Her debut book, HOW TO BE YOURSELF: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety, was published in March 2018.

What is the deal with not apologizing? Eminem says no apologies. Demi Lovato is sorry, not sorry. Gibbs on NCIS says Rule #6 is never apologize. Any one of them might have gotten the idea from John Wayne, who delivers his famous line in 1949’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon: “Never apologize—it’s a sign of weakness.” Even status quo customer service rules say not to apologize. Apparently, customers interpret the word “sorry” as an admission that your product or service is lousy; therefore, apologizing is discouraged and replaced by exasperating phrases like, “Thank you for your flexibility.” The mystery is only…

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Failure to launch: it may be a 2006 Matthew McConaughey movie given one star by Roger Ebert, but more often, it’s the growing phenomenon of young adults not making the transition to adulthood. In most Western countries, young adults are expected to leave the nest. And while they may need a finite amount of time to launch themselves, ultimately, the goal or everyone involved is to see the young adult fly on their own. But when young adults stay at home, don’t search for a job or contribute financially, and begin to withdraw from the world, we have the foundation…

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Listener Maro from Argentina wrote in and noted that recently, he hasn’t been enjoying things the way he used to. It’s as if nothing really matters anymore. Like most of us, he asked Dr. Google for information and discovered a new term: anhedonia. So what exactly is anhedonia? Well, if hedonism (the concept, not the clothing-optional resort in Jamaica) is the pursuit of pleasure and gratification, anhedonia is its opposite. The brain’s ability to feel joy, satisfaction, or enjoyment gets put on mute. There’s little to no motivation to see friends or do the things we love. It feels like there’s…

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Being a responsible person is usually a good thing—it means you’re committed, dependable, accountable, and care about others. It’s the opposite of shirking responsibility by pointing fingers or making excuses. But it’s easy to go too far. Do you take on everyone’s tasks? If someone you love is grumpy, do you assume it’s something you did? Do you apologize when someone bumps into you? Owning what’s yours—mistakes and blunders included—is a sign of maturity, but owning everybody else’s mistakes and blunders, not to mention tasks, duties, and emotions, is a sign of over-responsibility. But here’s the twist: being overly responsible…

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“Are you guys thinking about having kids?” “How much did your new house cost?” “Why aren’t you drinking?” “Haven’t you found a job yet?” Nosy questions are everywhere—your co-worker asks how big your raise was, the stranger in the elevator asks when the baby is due, or your mom tries to bond by asking about your sex life. Even the long-form U.S. census is nosy! How many cars do you have, what’s your income, were you laid off from your last job? It’s enough to make you wonder if Aunt Mildred is consulting for the government. With all the family…

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According to a CDC survey, one in four women and one in nine men are victims of physical or sexual partner violence or stalking. In same-sex relationships, the numbers are equivalent or even higher. But no matter who is caught in the complicated and misunderstood cycle of relationship violence, outsiders wonder about both sides. First, why would anyone hurt someone they love? And even more puzzling, why would anyone go back to a partner who hurts them? Friends and family shake their heads, bite their nails, and throw up their hands. “Get out now,” we say. “You don’t deserve this.”…

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A few months ago on the podcast we talked about how to rebuild trust in a relationship. But what happens if mistrust expands beyond a partner to, well, everyone? Not trusting anyone keeps you safe from hurt and betrayal, but it also leaves you isolated and suspicious. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Fear of trust is so common it’s an official phobia: pistanthrophobia. It’s a big name for an equally big problem. How does this happen? How does one lose faith in humanity? And how can you find it again? Well, about 40 years ago, researchers working…

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