This is a story of how I changed the lives of 8 people for 10 days in a trifling way. But mostly, it’s about how I changed myself. Many years ago I was a shy social worker at a small, non-profit agency helping runaway kids by giving them shelter, advocacy, and counseling. We were housed in an old building undergoing renovation during the hottest July I can … Continue reading Doing the Impossible
As a psychotherapist, people entrust me with their most private thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I hold that trust as sacred. Not because of strict confidentiality laws (which I uphold), but because I regard the safety and protection of these people as my highest priority. So where do my stories come from? First, when I tell a story about someone other than myself, either in a lecture to a group … Continue reading Privacy and Stories
What? An affair? Cheating on your spouse? Am I serious? Kevin (not real name) was a married man with 2 kids. He explained to me, “My wife is bipolar and it’s depressing to be around her. She doesn’t like me and I don’t like her. But I can’t divorce her because she’s not capable of caring for the kids alone and neither am I. She’s often in … Continue reading Can an Affair Preserve a Marriage?
I’ve tried all different types of time management systems. I’ve typed my goals on a spread sheet with small actions divided into columns with headings like this: Today, This week, This month, This year. I’ve tried a handwritten system with 3 notebook pages. One titled: Inside (tasks I do at home or indoors), Outside (errands in the outside world) and Work (specific to my full-time job.) … Continue reading Who Has Time for Passion Pursuit?
Sometimes, after working at something diligently, you may begin to wonder if you’ll ever get to where you want to go. When I began working in a clinic, counseling cocaine addicts, I started out being totally ignorant about the substance abuse world. The supervisor who hired me said, “I’m looking for someone with good, general counseling skills. Don’t worry about your lack of knowledge. The clients will teach you everything you need … Continue reading How do you Know You’ve Succeeded at Passion Pursuit?
Angela Duckworth, in Grit, The Power of of Passion and Perseverance, suggests that if you want to follow your passion but don’t know what it is yet, ask yourself these questions: What do I like to think about? Where does my mind wander? What do I really care about? What matters most to me? How do I enjoy spending my time? What do I find absolutely … Continue reading How do we Figure out our Passion?
The most popular theme of commencement speeches in high schools and colleges is Follow Your Passion. But how do you figure out what that is? And what if everyone wanted to follow their passion? Are the sanitation workers on the garbage trucks following their passion? What about school custodians, lunch ladies, and school crossing guards? I’ve had the opportunity to counsel more than a few school crossing … Continue reading Can Everyone Follow their Passion?
At a workshop many years ago, I learned a communication technique that felt like a gimmick. The object was to respond to someone who was insulting you by agreeing with them. It was important to sound sincere, not sarcastic. No — it was important to be sincere and find a way to agree with some part of the insult that your tormentor was throwing at you. … Continue reading Mind Games for Relationship Change
Now that I’ve trashed positive thinking in The Dark Side of Positive Thinking, it’s time to set the record straight. Our beliefs and thoughts have a real, physical effect on our bodies, our brains, and our world. Take the placebo effect. When I was in college, there was a time I had a headache every evening at 9 pm. My routine was to walk into the bathroom and take … Continue reading The Sunny Side of Positive Thinking
It’s one thing to be criticized by others. It’s quite another to do it to ourselves. Is it always a bad thing? I had a client who told me she was a bumbling, stumbling klutz. She constantly tripped over her own feet, walked into furniture, and knocked statues over. “You’re a clumsy idiot!” she’d berate herself. “Don’t ever try dancing. You’ll look like a complete fool.” In a New York Times review … Continue reading Self-Criticism: Who’s your worst enemy?