Tag Archives: therapy
In this episode of Two Therapists Talking, we discuss the problem of being “too nice.”
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Autumn is my favorite time of year. The leaves are changing colors, there is a briskness in the air, and you can feel that things are shifting. Some might see it this time as a sad or dark time.
However, Halloween specifically is a time of year that I would encourage you to take another look at. It is more than just kids dressing up and eating too much candy. It is even more than adults wearing a costume and socializing together at a party.
Halloween represents something within each of us. We all want to be more than just an itemized list of characteristics. We want to matter. We want to change the world, be someone else at times, or simply revel in the moment of feeling differently. These notions are all possible through Halloween.
However, they don’t have to just stay designated to a specific day or outfit. Halloween gives us freedom to pretend, explore, and try on different aspects of our personality. In those moments, we give ourselves adult permission to play on multiple levels. Beyond the recent research (American Journal Of Play) that show that we are healthier and have a more positive outlook when we engage in playful activities, this version of celebrating allows for us to tap into parts of ourselves that are normally considered off-limits the rest of the year.
When you consider that each year there is a time in American culture, where even as an adult, you are encouraged to be silly, sexy, serious, scary, or semi-crazy that holds a lot of power personally. You can get a glimpse of who you would be if you allowed other parts of your being to come forward. In my mind, that is nothing short of incredible.
We have so many facets to who we are and most of the time we keep them locked away tight in hopes that people won’t notice. It is often the hope that if they won’t notice they won’t judge us and they won’t reject us. Yet Halloween is a time that specifically embraces someone taking a risk, making a statement, or being “out of the norm” for expression sake. This is beautiful that our current version of this holiday celebration has moved from really tricking people into self-expression.
The main thing I would encourage you to consider is that you don’t have to keep this approach relegated to Halloween. You get to try your hand at different forms of expressing yourself and see what you think and feel about the results. Take the playful spirit of Halloween this year and extend it towards your life. You are multi-layered and shining the light on only one main aspect makes for a trapped life. Instead, push forth… share the elements of yourself that are new even to you, and I assure you… just like at Halloween you will discover something different about yourself and others.
There tends to be way more acceptance when we share more of who we are, rather than less, and this time of year is ripe for change and self expression. take advantage of it!
I recently watched a documentary about the origin of venture capital, Something Ventured. Specifically, I was struck by Don Valentine because while all the other investors were not interested in giving funding to Apple, Valentine saw something. He talks about the rough personalities he dealt with, the crazy conditions, and the in-fighting of the business. But beyond all that, before the world would forever change due to personal computers, Valentine was willing to take a risk.
It is known that VCs are risk takers but when all the other risk takers are not willing to move ahead, it is a scary proposition to believe in an idea that is beyond the current popular notion of acceptance or understanding. It takes a great amount of courage to go against the grain. It all sounds like easy enough cliches but when you really have to make a choice to go ahead with something you believe in or turn back, it is that moment what you are made of that comes to the top.
Valentine’s philosophy is one that I really appreciate: ”The world thrives best when individuals are left to be different and creative.” It becomes clear that if you want to do something new that you are going to get some push back from those around you. The people that are seeking to change the world are often not accepted. In fact, numerous people seeking venture capital have devoted themselves to a singular idea, to the exclusion of other things in life, that could shift the way we understanding our very existence. They believe in themselves so deeply, they will risk everything. That is a powerful concept!
I don’t expect that if you are reading this that you have millions of dollars to invest in new companies. However, I do expect that if you have a desire for something new or different for your life that you would do everything you could to make your vision become a reality. People might think you are crazy, they will judge you, it is possible they will even dislike you for your new idea/approach/concept but I encourage you to take that push-back as ever more reason to move ahead.
There is no way that you will ever be able to please the world but you just might be able to change it with who you are! It isn’t just okay to be different it is encouraged! Please… allow yourself to express, dream big, and be passionate about the life you live. It is that drive that will make this place better for everyone!
For those that are continually seeking growth and self improvement, it can seem like a no-brain-er to see your trouble spots and fix them. Yet, logic and integration often seem to be on different time frames. It can be even more complicated when you see yourself in others and can’t seem to figure out if it is you or them that needs to shift because you are both exhibiting the same behavior you dislike.
In the moment when you catch your own negative reflection in another, you instantly know something needs to change. Then when you understand that change needs to come from within, it cuts to the core and it often stings. That judgment that so easily comes forth towards others is directly pointed at yourself.
You have a choice.
You can project it back on to the other person, which is completely valid because you dislike the behavior anyway. Or you can push it one step further and take a dose of your own expectations for change.
It is pretty easy to put the blame on another and it is even easier to judge those that are doing things you don’t do yourself. However, expecting more of yourself in areas that are shown to be problematic can be tricky. You can take on the negative as some terrible deficit within yourself. You can shame and belittle your own process. OR you can choose a whole different approach (this one is therapist approved btw).
You can come to terms with the idea that you are a work in progress. If you want to grow that means there will be areas that need improvement. You can rejoice in the fact that you have a new level of insight and work on integration! You can use this information to more quickly focus on the areas that specifically need to shift. You are already moving ahead and better than you were before you were in the dark about the issue the moment of the realization.
This is a totally doable re-frame. You can take your weakness and turn it into your strength. Gently treating yourself in the same way you would others during the growth process, will dramatically increase efficiency towards change. You won’t have to do that whole “self-loathing” thing, you just skip right to the change and feeling better.
Accept, change, and move on with your awesome self.
It’s almost time for alternative sex therapists and researchers to get together and talk about big ideas in the field.
All are welcome to attend the upcoming CARAS Conference in Chicago on May 24th. I’ll be presenting with Awen Therapy on the topic entitled :
Using the D/s Dynamic to Reach Therapeutic Goals In and Out of Session
This is such an important group of individuals who are looking to bridge the gap between therapy-research-and-community. This is going to be a great conference, join us!
I think often we have unspoken rules about how we want to conduct our lives. It can be confusing for someone to automatically know that -you-should-take-your-shoes-off-when-you-come-inside-the-door. Then when the person doesn’t quickly act in the way we are expecting, we are confronted with a choice. We let the new person know the expectations directly or we sadly can stay silent and be upset that they didn’t do it right.
This is the same thing that we do with the rules of self, we expect that everyone will know how to we want to live our lives, what works and what doesn’t, how to treat us, what our boundaries are, and the very best way to show us love. This is mind reading at its best. It is all so obvious to us.
I have a saying that I use with clients a lot “If it is obvious, then you need to say it out loud.” We are so accustomed to our own mind and beliefs that it seems a given, but if it is that ingrained within us that means it is pretty important. Hence, saying our ideas, expectations, and boundaries out loud not only makes sense but also creates a much more open dynamic.
The approach of letting others know what your personal house are allows everyone to have a framework of interaction. You get to avoid a lot of the messy parts of stepping on each other’s toes. Everyone decides if the structure is workable and provides an understanding of the boundaries. It sound so simple but that is exactly what we so often miss, stating that which seems like a default to our own system.
I really love the idea of putting your house rules out for everyone to see (physically like photo above or state directly). Consider wearing your expectations with a badge of honor that you want others to know about from the start. Be proud of who you are and what you want from yourself and others!
Did you know that the light bulb was originally built to last much longer than it does? Apparently, the technology and lifespan was created to be more than 1000 hours pushed into the marketplace as the standard. The Phoebus Cartel put pressure on manufacturers to keep the longevity of the light bulb limited. They basically became rich by strong arming the industry into not allowing innovation and competition to thrive. The idea was to intentionally make a poorly designed product to stop working as a way to sell more units.
A term was coined for the concept of creating a product to become inoperable after a specific time period: “planned obsolescence.” The idea took hold and the 1950′s spawned a new generation of goods under a time constraint. The demand for an item is inherent when the product will stop working and new one is needed. Hence, this provided marketers with an essential way to spur on sales with the illusion of a better product always right around the corner.
Everyday we are bombarded with notions to replace the poorly created goods we already have for other poorly created merchandise, without a second thought. There is always a newer product that will help take away the inconvenience of the one we already have that doesn’t appear to function properly. Is it any wonder that we have no idea how to have lasting relationships?
I’m not saying that marketing or even planned obsolescence is to blame for our inability to connect on a deeper level. However, the world we live in does influence us and if we continue to substitute one bad item for another, well you can see how a slippery slope can be created within your psychology.
If a person has a personality quirk, makes a mistake, gets sick, older, or even just says something we don’t like, it is pretty deeply ingrained in American culture to simply find another person. We even have relationship concepts for this like “starter marriage. ” But the problem I have with this replaceable notion of relationships is the same that I have with planned obsolescence: where is the personal responsibility of the individual to make sure they are really getting something better?
It is one thing if you end a relationship (for just about any reason) and learn from it, grow, and integrate changes which allow you to pursue someone of higher calibre. It is another thing (read: unhealthy) to ditch one relationship only to find yourself in the exact same dynamic you were in the last time it didn’t work. This is essentially planned obsolescence in relationships.
Individuals are not taking the time to put in quality emotional work into understanding themselves, research their own patterns, and then seek a relationship that reflects a higher level of integration. Instead, they just swap one bad relationship for another and then complain about it. This is a lament we hear daily if it is not about a piece of technology equipment it could easily be about someone’s romantic partner.
Want to avoid planned obsolescence within your relationship? Here is what you do, it is simple really, it just requires a bit of self honesty and effort. You decide that what you expect from yourself and a relationship is of more worth and higher quality than before. You make a conscious choice to examine who you are and what you want, then you look at ways to better strengthen yourself and interactions, and then you actually get to know someone and see over time if they meet your standards. Finally you decide to more fully invest within the relationship.
It is a process and not necessarily an easy one at that. It is easy to fall for the shiny marketing of a quick new alternative relationship. However, I assure you that waiting for quality understanding within yourself and taking the time to learn more about the other person will allow for a much higher level of satisfaction and longer relationship lifespan.
And just for information sake, planned obsolescence still exists today often seen in examples likes printers, ipod batteries, and yes… still for light bulbs.
Trust is a concept that we talk a lot about in therapy. But what exactly is it? Well that depends on the person…
There are many that believe that trust is about feeling comfortable. Others would say it is a matter of sharing secrets and keeping them. Some people consider trust to be about having your words and actions match up on a regular basis. All of these concepts and more are true.
The building blocks of trust are about our belief in another person to be there for us, protect our vulnerabilities, and follow through.
Yet when we talk about how to build trust or how to regain trust, it gets a bit more complicate.
What if you have made some poor decision or have trouble with boundaries and feel like you can’t trust yourself? Well, you start by looking at things that are not emotionally charged. You consider how you trust yourself to get things done, what kind of preferences you have, and how you feel when you are most secure and happy. These types of questions allow you to sort through the process you use to connect with your values. It takes some time but once you start to see a pattern of choice, expression, and authenticity you begin to immediately see how trust is created within yourself.
When you have been betrayed it is hard to know what to do. If you have experienced the acute feelings of mistrust, it is something that can shake you to your core. You relied on your abilities to judge correctly AND a person that you care about has mislead you. It is doubly heart wrenching.
How do you sort through it all? Should you protect yourself or open up again? What if the answer is both?
Being able to refocus on your needs and values is a huge part of the process of trust. You are not just looking at trusting another person you are looking at how you understand your own ability to trust. Consider what it is like to know what it feels like with relationships you do trust. There are signals that you send and that others send all the time that help you understand the mechanisms that you need to pay attention you. You know what are red flag behaviors from another it is about being more consciously attuned to them AND listening when these arise.
Building trust with others can be tricky. There is a balance that has to be created. For a while the understanding that was once a given is now tentative. You need to honestly look at what you need from another person and present it to them. Allowing the other person to know as clearly as possible what you need to get enough time, experience, and commitment helps you know when you are building trust directly. Just saying the words that you want to “build trust” don’t actually do much but stating what you want and need to the person that betrayed you gives you clarity and allows the other person to work towards actively regaining your trust.
TRUST IN THERAPY
There is typically an unspoken notion that you will simply trust the therapist. But why? If you are a benevolent person and typically allow yourself to be open until given a reason otherwise, coming and talking to someone new about private matters can be great. However, if you have experienced trauma, have had others betray you, or are unsure how to trust yourself then this expectation can seem almost too much to ask.
So, I do things a bit different. I ask you to begin to trust yourself, by seeing what you need to learn about if my approach to therapy works for you. You can share as much as you want as fast as you want or as little and slow as you desire. It is not for me to dictate what you feel comfortable with. Therapy is about creating a bond that is respectful and empowering and that can take time for some. Hence, paying attention to your own sense of what works for you is one of the biggest keys towards trust building.
Only you can decide if a specific person is someone you want and/or can trust. It takes time and experience and honest expression to create those bonds of trust. You are worth closely paying attention to so you can make choices that best fit you and your life.
Allowing your internal monitor to teach you… who and what you feel uncomfortable and comfortable with goes a long way.
It happens all the time… a client looks me square in the eye and with an authentic pleading tone they say “Please just tell me what to do!” I know this phrase so well… because I have also said it to my therapist. Sometimes things are so hard we just want some guidance. It isn’t as if we are looking for someone to dictate our every move, but we want someone else to shoulder the burden. This is totally understandable, human, and natural. It also means that as far as the therapist-client relationship goes, you are probably going to hate me in the moment, and love yourself later for the answer I return to those longing filled eyes.
I deeply respect individual choice, mood, and thought. I don’t pretend not to have opinions or values. I clearly do and those that choose me as a therapist know that I’m sex-positive, direct, and extremely honest. I’m not afraid to push. However, there are lines that I do not cross. Part of this is empowering each person to make their own decisions and not claiming to know better than the client what is best for them.
It is almost a cliche at this point, but it still stands as a truth, that you will learn so much more when you figure things out for yourself rather than have someone else tell you. Not to mention, most of the time even when someone does tell us, we don’t listen, we just wait for our own integration to hit! This is how it should be. We need to figure out our own ideas, values, and emotions.
So, even when you ask me what I think, I’ll turn it back around on you. This is not meant to be cruel, as a trick, or to dodge the topic. It is that as a therapist with integreity, I believe in the strength of each person to figure out their own way. If you want someone to tell you what to do there are many a friend and family member that I’m sure would be happy to do the job.
It is not my job to dictate what you should be doing. Rather, it is my job to help you find your core strengths, use them to make choices, and act in a way that works best for your life. I’m all about looking at the situation as a whole and providing opening to new patterns, thoughts, and expressions. I’m here to also give you support when things feel overwhelming.
Believe me when I say this… your words state that you want me to tell you what to do, but that is just one frustrated moment in time. After that moment passes, there is a respect for yourself that comes when you use your own judgement to decide what is right and wrong for your life.
And that is the magical part of therapy, I get to watch each person come into their own sense of self. I don’t want mindless clients. I want to encourage independent thought, strength, and action. Even though it hurts me to not give a client what they want in that situation, I’m proud to say I always give a client what they need to reach their goals with strength and dignity.