Category Archives: Television

Popcornpsych Quote of the Week

Tracy MorganWhen asked if he was nervous about getting back out on tour for his new show, “Picking up the Pieces” after a long rehabilitation following a car accident that left him seriously injured, Tracy Morgan responded:

“No I never use that word nervous, I’m excited. Words take on meaning.

People who are nervous can’t wait for it to be over, I can’t wait for it to start!”

Tracy Morgan, Comedian, on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Jan 2016

Do You Focus or Fold: Minimise your ‘choking’ hazards

“Pressure – changes everything, pressure.  Some people, you squeeze them, they focus.  Others fold.”                

In film ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ (1997)
Hrdecka, Australian Open 2015 Image by Lillian Nejad
Hrdecka, Australian Open 2015   Image by Lillian Nejad


Australia is about to be invaded by the world’s top tennis players vying for top spot in tournaments around the country and culminating in the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open in Melbourne this January. Sport is the ultimate in reality television, unscripted, often unpredictable, and particularly in an individual sport like tennis, driven by the personality of the athlete.  Every year, tennis fans gather to witness who will triumph and who will crumble under the pressure, or ‘choke’ as they refer to it in sport.

Although most of us will not experience this kind of pressure on such a public stage, choking doesn’t just occur in sport. The public pressure on athletes to succeed is not unlike the corporate environment where the expectation is to excel and handle pressure with ease. Let’s face it, even having to parallel park can be a high pressure situation for some of us!

So what leads to choking? It comes down to what you think of yourself (“I can’t do this!”, “I suck!”), what you think about the situation (“I have to succeed or else!”, “It has to be perfect!”) and how you perceive others’ expectations of you (“Everybody is counting on me!”, “Everyone is laughing at me!”).

Jessica Mauboy
Jessica Mauboy

Even if you have the talent, knowledge and ability to deal with high demands of work, life, or sport, sometimes the pressure can still get to you – and at the worst possible moment.  Jessica Mauboy’s recent no-show for her performance at the Melbourne Cup is a perfect example of this. It can happen to anyone.

How do you minimise your ‘choking’ hazards?


Learn how to focus and not fold under pressure by using these 10 strategies:

  1. Pay attention to your thoughts. In high pressure situations, are you motivating yourself or putting yourself down? If you tend towards the latter, work on changing these thought patterns by practicing different ways of thinking and consciously using them in different pressure situations until it becomes habit.
  2. Practice makes perfect. Become accustomed to high-pressure situations. Expose  yourself to a variety of pressure situations at home, work, or in sport.  Avoidance breeds fear, so face pressure head-on.
  3. Take a moment. Notice how athletes like tennis players and golfers take a few breaths before serving or driving the ball. Relaxation and breathing techniques can ease the tension in your body before, during and after exposure to high-pressure situations.
  4. Prevention is key. If you have a balanced lifestyle that includes social support, a healthy diet, physical activity, and time to relax, you are likely to have the mental, emotional, and physical strength and energy to cope with stressful situations.
  5. Stay in the present. Don’t think too much about the outcome. Stay focussed on the task so you can respond effectively to whatever happens in the moment.
  6. Develop a ritual for facing pressure situations. Remember to keep it simple and practical—a few breaths, reading an inspirational quote, listening to a particular song, a short mindfulness exercise.
  7. Watch and learn. How do people around you deal with pressure, expectations, public scrutiny or professional pitfalls?  You can learn a great deal from others’ successes and mistakes.
  8. Reflect on your previous experiences. What were the conditions, both internally (in your own mind and body) and externally (in the environment) when you were successful and when you were not. What would you do differently to improve the outcome next time?
  9. Imagine coping with the situation. Sit or lie down with your eyes closed and go through the whole scenario in detail with you successfully completing the task. Visualising success by going through the motions in your mind is a powerful tool and is effectively used to prepare elite athletes for their match-ups.
  10. Lessen the significance of the event. Put the importance of the situation in perspective. This may not be possible on rare occasions, but generally, there will be future opportunities, events and moments to prove yourself.

Now get out there and enjoy some tennis!


First published on



John Oliver: Cynic or Optimist?

Known for the vigour in which he challenges the absurdities of the status quo in America through penetrating and often eviscerating rants about social and political issues like sex education, gun laws, and marriage equality–you could easily mistake John Oliver for a cynic. But the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight and former political comic/correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, is an optimist through and through.

Unknown copy

In his live show, Oliver’s stories from his childhood elucidated his fortuitous path toward comedy and revealed that his optimistic outlook dated way back and was at least partly predicated on ignorance (mainly of his lack of athletic prowess).  Contrary to what you would expect of a satiric Englishman in New York, Oliver has an affectionate stance toward America and Americans; voicing an appreciation for the eclectic eccentricities of American people and culture (and buildings!).

Oddly, the most poignant evidence for Oliver’s optimism were his anecdotes involving pigeons.  If pigeons have the power to lifts spirits and provide comic relief in even the most dire of circumstances, then surely there is hope for all of us.

First published on Omnipsych.

New Year’s Resolution: Get Rid of Your Life-Blockers!

Would you rather watch a life worth living or live a life worth watching?

Life-blockers are time-sucking behaviors we voluntarily participate in that get in the way of living the life we want for ourselves. Whatever benefits you may glean from these activities are heavily outweighed by the chronic states of procrastination and inertia they foster. Consider how the following life-blockers may be inhibiting you from reaching your goals.

Candy Crush
Total life-blocker. The most popular games app is causing hoards of men and women to mindlessly whittle the minutes away, minutes that turn into hours—hours that could be spent doing something productive, creative or worthwhile. But hey—we made it to level 578—so that’s something. Next time you feel the urge to crush candy, instead spend it on calculating the time you have already spent playing. Let’s say you did reach level 578; at 10 minutes per level (a conservative estimate), you have spent 96 hours on Candy Crush. Four entire days! Is this what you wanted for yourself??? Are you kicking yourself right now? Kick the Candy Crush habit instead.

Reality Television
On average, people watch 2.8 hours of television per day, and increasingly, reality television has taken center stage. We spend our time either cringing at others’ awkward, socially inappropriate behavior or fantasizing about leading their decadent life of fame and fortune. Not all reality TV lacks value but any way you look at it, you are spending your time watching other people live. So the next time you want to turn on The Kardashians, Pawn Stars, any of the Housewives…ask yourself, would you rather watch a life worth living or live a life worth watching? Continue reading New Year’s Resolution: Get Rid of Your Life-Blockers!

Five Shows Worth Binge-Watching over the Holidays


The state of television seems to be deteriorating with the explosion of reality television and the never-ending series of crime shows. But among the frivolous and grotesque, there are some real gems with strong female characters to lead the way. Celebrated shows like Sex and the City, Girls, and Orange is the New Black all adeptly and humorously explore female relationships, honoring our individual differences and acknowledging our essential sameness. If this is your cup of tea, then here are five more shows worth binge-watching over the holidays.

What these shows have in common, besides an award-winning cast and well-deserved critical acclaim, are that they are all about women who are facing major life challenges: a cheating husband, an emotional breakdown, cancer, alcoholism, single motherhood, and relationship breakup; and in their struggle to cope, pave a convoluted, imperfect, mistake-ridden and often comical path to their true self.

Continue reading Five Shows Worth Binge-Watching over the Holidays

Amy Schumer is Important

imagesAmy Schumer wields irony, obscenity and absurdity like a broad stroke paintbrush slapping shocking neon colors everywhere but on the canvas. This is a woman who is all about what is outside the lines. With unflinching audaciousness, she bares herself defiantly and unreservedly for a noble purpose.

Underlying the crude jokes, potty mouth, and the base humor that has led to her being pigeonholed by some as “sex comic”, is a statement about equality. Continue reading Amy Schumer is Important