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Coming Clean on the Couch

self deception

Coming clean on the couch isn’t easy. And what do I mean by that? This is a post about self deception and how it stops you cold from achieving your best self. Self deception exists in many forms. We tell ourselves it won’t matter if we just have this extra helping of mashed potatoes or purchase this designer handbag on sale. The credit card bill is already high–what the hell. But how about self deception as a form of [false] protection?

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Is It Oz?

narcissism

Lately the world is abuzz with talk of narcissism. Politics aside, sometimes I see this in the therapy room. It is more subtle than you might expect. These behaviors are not as black and white as this yin/yang symbol. Indeed, this set of emotional behaviors is more like 50 shades of gray! Why? Because it is often difficult for a partner to pin down why they are the ones feeling exhausted and depressed when dealing with a narcissist. Is it Oz? The comparison of Oz as the epitome of the narcissist is used by Eleanor D. Payson in her book The Wizard of Oz And Other Narcissists. She sees the wizard from the movie The Wizard of Oz as a glowing example of narcissism, and Dorothy as the “codependent” who repeatedly and desperately tries many ways to please him in her goal of getting back home. In this classic example, both parties fit together in a yin and yang manner, perpetuating this painful dance.

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How Do You Trust?

how do you trust

Most people don’t know the answer to “How do you trust?” Last week’s post offered the definitions of betrayal and trust, and many ideas about the ways we betray others. It goes beyond simply having affairs. If you missed it you can read it here. It is a nice basis for this week’s Part II discussion.

There are times when we get to a place in a relationship when we really start seriously asking the question “Should I stay or should I go?”

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Evaluating Betrayal

betrayal

How do you go about evaluating betrayal? First you might want to understand what it really means. 

It is a major betrayal when someone does something that breaks a fundamental promise or violates a fundamental expectation and does so in a way that significantly hurts your peace of mind.–Mira Kirshenbaum*

And, an affair is not the only way we betray others.

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Can’t. Think. Clearly.

can't think clearly

Hello everyone! This post is a Part II to last week’s, which you can read here if you missed it.

What happens when you are fighting with your lover and you get either so hurt, or so angry, that you can’t think clearly?

Research by Jaak Panksepp of Washington State University demonstrates that mammals develop a special pathway in the amygdala that lights up when they perceive their mate is unavailable. Panksepp is convinced this special pathway exists in all mammals. So what happens when you feel, most likely without even realizing it, that your connection with your partner is under threat? You are plunged into what he terms “primal panic.” The primal part is due to the absolute need,  a primal need, for connection to others–especially our significant others.

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Anxiety and Love

Anxiety and love

Anxiety and love are connected. Logic, as we think of it in the Western sense, is often prized above love, when love is thought of as an emotion that lacks intellect. Yet love, which is comprised of all six innate identified emotions (recognized and verified via social science the world over): fear, anger, happiness, sadness, surprise, and shame, is exquisite in its logic of self protection. We are designed by evolution to seek connection for survival and much research on attachment theory has verified this. So what happens when our sense of attachment with our partner feels threatened and we start to feel anxious?

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Gentle Start Ups

gentle start ups

Perpetual issues permeate every relationship. A perpetual issue is essentially an unresolvable problem, kind of like having a bad back when you age. We learn to live with chronic conditions like this and to make the best of things in spite of them. BTW, did you realize that marriage allows you to have the special privilege of annoying one person in particular for the rest of your life? Uhmmm…and the other way around as well?  By definition, when you enter a relationship, you have chosen a set of problems that you will deal with for the duration of that relationship. Here’s an example of what I mean by a perpetual issue, and a technique for managing it called a gentle start up.

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Life’s too short to be subtle!

Life's too short

How many times have you obsessed over how to say just the right thing in just the right way so as not to offend someone you care about? Or perhaps tried to say something in a way that would not upset or offend your boss or coworker? Knowing what you need and saying it without sounding defensive or aggressive isn’t always easy. But life’s too short to be subtle! Leaving your fate to chance is like taking the long way around with the possibility that you may never arrive. It’s never too late to set new goals and go after your heart’s desire.

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What matters most in therapy?

therapeutic relationship

Wow. What matters most in therapy? There are so many schools of thought on that question it boggles the brain. Between the problem approach and the list of disorders published in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fifth Edition), identifying what makes therapy successful has about as many answers as there are economists predicting the stock market. When I scroll through other therapists’ listings on Psychology Today to see how many different disorders they treat, I start feeling a little queasy. Should I be treating all those? Listing all those specialties? Does that matter? Or should I maybe sound more warm and fuzzy like many sites do? Should I declare that my undying passion is to help others?
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Depression Is Beastly

depression

Depression is beastly, but you can start to manage it a bit if it has a grip on you. I think of it as the “do-nothing disease.” It takes a toll in many ways, from causing you to withdraw to postponing making decisions because of a sort of paralysis that sets in. It has physical ramifications as well: too much sleep, too much food (or not enough), too little exercise, too much TV or screen time. In short, self care goes into the toilet.

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