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Want Better Communication? Stop Pushing Buttons

I’m around little kids a lot these days. It’s amazing how early and thoroughly they learn to push our buttons. They know our weaknesses, and they aren’t afraid to use them. A very convincing cry, some irritating whining, or even a guilt trip. Man, they are good. I try to remember the motto posted in my daughter’s classroom at daycare: They’re two. Whatcha going to do? I give kids credit, they really don’t have a lot of power. They have to use what they can. They are resourceful, really. While it’s skilled for kids to at least try to push buttons to get what they want, the same is not true of adults. As adults, if we purposefully say something to another person just to get our way or get them to feel something negative, then that is unskilled communication.     . . . read more

Not Saying Has Consequences

I’ve come to believe that not saying anything is the most over-used communication strategy in couples. It’s not a bad strategy when used appropriately. For example, there are many things you might choose not to talk about because they are minor and would offend for no reason: a style choice, a passing grumpy mood, a silly mistake. The saying, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all, makes sense to me. No need to criticize without a purpose. However, it’s also important to remember that the saying is not: if you have something unpleasant, difficult or emotional to say, don’t say anything at all. Too often we avoid saying something that might be hard or prompt an emotional response. The belief is that if we abstain from saying anything then we are not responsible. Our     . . . read more

Two New Workshops this Fall

I’m pleased to announce two new mini-workshops, specifically for women, to take place in my office at 203 Anderson Street in Portland, Maine. These are intended to be small and highly interactive, so space is limited. Getting to “No” Guilt-free Tuesday, September 24th 12:00-1:30pm This mini-workshop is for nice women who need specific strategies for how and when to say no, all while overcoming guilt. Whether you are over-extended at home, work, or both, this workshop is designed to give you the tools and confidence you need to stop the stress of never saying no. You will learn: Why no is nice How to gracefully, but firmly, say no When it makes sense to say no Why relationships suffer when you fail to say no How relationships benefit when you say no more often How to recognize unrealistic expectations of     . . . read more

Beyond Postpartum: The Surprising Benefits of Being a Mom

Writer and mother extraordinaire, Lynn Shattuck, recently wrote a great piece for her blog reflecting on her postpartum experience. It was hugely popular because it hit home for many women. It brought back some memories for me, too. It took me a few weeks to regroup emotionally from having a baby in the middle of a dark, cold winter. In the thick of it, I was more exhausted, anxious, and vulnerable than I had ever been. In my worst moments, I worried about everything from dropping the baby, to falling down the stairs, to forgetting her altogether. Who had entrusted the care of this helpless creature to me anyway? Didn’t they know that I occasionally tripped and misplaced things?! I was worn down like all new moms. In the hardest hours, sparks of worries kept me tired and wired in     . . . read more

Curiosity and Relationships

Note from Hannah: This is a guest post by Portland therapist, Bonnie Dunn, LCSW. It’s part of the New Perspectives series where writers give us their take on emotional wellness and the human experience. In honor of July 4th, Hannah did a post about Freedom.  Her last line was:  “Freedom is a stance of curiosity, experimentation and play”.   I’m pretty sure Hannah was referring to that healthy curiosity about life and people, and for the record, I think she’s right about how important it is.   But sometimes, showing curiosity about other people is seen as invasive, an intrusion into a person’s privacy. Don’t get me wrong – we’re a society that was built on a person’s right to personal freedom and privacy – our famous “right to remain silent” that protects us from the prying of others.  And that’s a     . . . read more

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