Comfort in Unexpected Places

After two wonderful back-to-back vacations, I returned home with a severe chest cold. I stopped writing for over a month. Although I began to recover from my cold, I became wracked with doubt over restarting my writing habit again. Questions tortured me. Why am I writing in the first place? Who cares about what I have to say? How can I possibly contribute anything important … Continue reading Comfort in Unexpected Places

I Want it Now!

My mother asked me how my internet search for a relationship was going. “Terrible,” I told her. “I’ve been doing this for years and it’s a complete failure.” “Years?” she asked. “10 years! No, 15!” I said. 15 years was a nice round number and added just the right amount of dramatic spice to my pessimism. But I knew I was lying to my mother (and myself). Here’s what … Continue reading I Want it Now!

When You Lose Faith in Yourself

I met a man, I’ll call him Martin, who was devastated about how his marriage had ended. “After 30 years and 2 kids,” he said, looking baffled, “my wife left me for another woman. How could I not know she was gay?” “What’s the worst thing about this loss for you?” I asked. “It’s bad enough that my marriage is over. We never had a close physical relationship anyway. I … Continue reading When You Lose Faith in Yourself

How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 1

It’s more fun, and a lot easier, to change someone else than to change ourselves. But is it possible? It makes sense that we want to transform someone into the person we thought they used to be, many years ago, such as a spouse who was once loving and attentive. They can certainly be that person again, can’t they? Have you ever tried rewinding your own history clock and … Continue reading How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 1

Plot Reversals in Your Life Story

I recently went on a 4 day trip alone to beautiful Quebec City. One afternoon, after wandering through the quaint Basse Ville (lower town) of Old Quebec, I sat down at an outdoor cafe nestled into the steep cliff steps and ordered a green salad with cranberries, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts, finished off with an icy latte. I had chosen to sit beside an older couple, maybe in their early 70’s. The man … Continue reading Plot Reversals in Your Life Story

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 Sunny Side of Positive Thinking

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

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