Laughter Yoga – Gimmick or Game?

I was listening to a podcast from Studio 360 called, Can Laughing Make us Healthier?, and my first thought was, everybody’s got a gimmick. In the 1970’s there was primal scream therapy, where the patient remembers and reenacts a disturbing past experience that occurred in childhood. They express their repressed anger and frustration with spontaneous screams, hysteria, or violence. I’d hate to share a neighboring office with a primal scream therapist. … Continue reading Laughter Yoga – Gimmick or Game?

Self-Esteem is Overrated

I was so terrified about speaking up in school that if I had to give a presentation, I’d spend the whole class thinking of what I had to say. I’d become deaf to what everyone else was saying. After I spoke, my deafness persisted. My heart pounded as I numbly replayed my mistakes, and I shuddered at the memory of my faltering voice. People sometimes say, “I have low self-esteem.” Does that mean they don’t like … Continue reading Self-Esteem is Overrated

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

Am I Happy, Compared to You?

We may think that our experience of happiness is objective, but it’s not. We all carry an unconscious frame of reference in our heads that filters how we feel about our lives. Everything – our relationships, our beliefs about our own success, our friends, family, and wealth, are perceived through this filter. Since we’re always comparing ourselves to the people around us, we need to discover … Continue reading Am I Happy, Compared to You?

Privacy and Stories

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

How do you Know You’ve Succeeded at 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?

Mind Games for Relationship Change

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

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

It’s Okay to Feel Unhappy

Many years ago, I navigated through a particularly rough time as a divorced mother of 2 young children. I juggled time for my kids, a full-time job, a social life, and a tough money situation. At some point, I felt so overwhelmed and miserable I decided to talk to a psychotherapist about my unbearable unhappiness. “Of course you feel terribly unhappy,” she said. “You’re going through bad times. But it’s not unbearable. You’re bearing it.” At first, I … Continue reading It’s Okay to Feel Unhappy