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Why Is It So Hard To Talk About Our Emotions?

emotions

I read a Facebook comment recently that plaintively asked “Why is it so hard for us to talk about our emotions?” In light of the recent and tragic suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I thought about this question. It begged the following question. Have you ever had your emotions minimized or dismissed altogether?

I experienced this recently, and it made me feel sort of expendable, like what I was contributing really wasn’t all that important. It can make you question whether that is true, and undermine your self esteem, as well as your sense of belonging. Now I’m not depressed, but if you are depressed, this only confirms the heaviness you already feel, and the sense that you really don’t matter. Here are eight reasons why emotions have low value in our culture.

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The Hidden Costs of Broken Boundaries

healthy boundaries

In addition to my degree in clinical social work, I have a masters degree in public health. We prevent. That’s what public health is about. In this post I want to help you see the hidden costs of poor boundaries, and prevent those costs for yourself. First you need to understand that prevention is often invisible unless you first look at the prevented costs. Here’s an example of that.

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Why I’ll Slap You If You Call Me Sweetie

ageism

Kidding! I’m a non-violent person except for my occasional potty mouth. But really, don’t call me sweetie. You can call me honey—if you’re my husband. What is this about? I recently shared an article from Next Avenue on the harm it does to older persons when they are called honey or sweetie. These terms contribute to ageism according to the article. Boy did I get some pushback on my stance of avoiding those words! My readers contributed great insight on the topic, but many feel it is Southern custom, and that I should just lighten up 😉

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Curious About Emotion

curious

I am so fascinated by why emotions have such a low value in our culture. People are simply not aware of the power their emotions exert over their behavior. They do not investigate them. They are not curious about emotion. And Brené Brown’s research has shown that people who do investigate their emotions have learned to do so in one of three ways. How I wish they were as curious as this little boy staring at his fish!

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Get Some Awe

Nature reduces stress

PSA: Get some awe. Go out and get yourself to a place where you can easily feel your insignificance. A place in nature where you can look up, down and all around, and breathe in the idea that all of the anxiety, the worry, the daily grind, don’t matter. At least not in that moment.

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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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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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Gratitude for Mundanity

gratitude

Appreciate the boring, the routine, the mundane, the ubiquitous features of your daily life. If they were removed, you would grieve for the normalcy lost. This is in fact a thread in some of the testimonies recorded by Holocaust survivors in the memory foundation created by Stephen Spielberg as a part of living history. His USC Shoah Foundation has filmed about 52,000 two-hour eyewitness accounts in 34 languages and in 58 countries. What most struck me in some of the recordings is their gratitude for mundanity, the “everydayness” of the lives that were stolen from them. This Thanksgiving I see these testimonies as urging us to appreciate what we have.

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