Protective Spells for Contagious Moods

How do you prevent yourself from getting sucked into someone else’s bad mood? When people hear I’m a psychotherapist they often ask, “How can you stand listening to people’s sorrows all day without getting depressed?” It’s easier for me to have defensive walls when I’m working than when I’m not. All therapists have to create defenses. First, I need to feel compassion for other people. If I don’t, I can’t be … Continue reading Protective Spells for Contagious Moods

The Dark Side of Positive Thinking

Recently, an old friend told me, “I’m not usually a fan of the self-help, positive stuff.” I laughed, but I knew exactly what he meant. Positive thinking self-help gurus are everywhere, like cockroaches. Sometimes they’re uplifting. Other times they do real harm. How is that possible? Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of learned optimism, which helps you cultivate an openness to life. While it’s important to be … Continue reading The Dark Side of Positive Thinking

Whitewashing Tom Sawyer’s Fence

Every kid eventually discovers this trick. We used to call it “reverse psychology.” Psychotherapists call it a “paradoxical intervention.” Mark Twain says it best in the story of Tom Sawyer and the fence that Aunt Polly made him whitewash on a beautiful summer day. We’re all familiar with how the clever Tom lit upon the idea of bamboozling his friends to not only paint the fence for him, but to pay for … Continue reading Whitewashing Tom Sawyer’s Fence

Emotional Blackmail

As we travel through life we learn techniques for dealing with other people. We learn those techniques from parents, friends, teachers, characters in books, movies, TV, and experience. Sometimes we make it up and try something new just to see what happens. When I was a young girl I watched a lot of old romantic movies. I saw that when a man was rude to a woman, she would … Continue reading Emotional Blackmail