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New Perspectives Make a Difference

Recently I heard a talk radio program where the host said (in reference to what, I cannot remember), “This is not like psychotherapy where they are trying to fix you…” I couldn’t hear the rest because I was in total shock. I knew this point of view existed, but I had never heard it said so succinctly: psychotherapists try to fix people. I could only think in little sound bites: Wait. Time out. FALSE. It took me a couple of weeks to recover and process. So now let me say in response that I’m not interested in fixing anyone. I don’t believe anyone is broken. At the heart of it, I actually think most people fear they are broken, but are not. It’s this fear that creates a lot of problems. As a therapist, I do not try to fix     . . . read more

Hopes for Myself as a Mother

It’s an odd place to get parenting advice, but the best story regarding mothering I ever heard was from Penn Jillette on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. Penn talked about how his mother’s philosophy was that she loved and cherished her children for who they were, from the moment of birth, and never for what they did. She delighted in their joys, but it was never about accomplishments. According to Penn, she was once offended by a producer who asked her if she were proud of her son for receiving a positive New York Times review. She was horrified at the suggestion and put him in his place by affirming it was not his accomplishments that made her proud, but who he was and had always been. That’s the kind of mom I want to be. Like Mrs. Jillette, I hope     . . . read more

Holding Shadows: Forgiveness and Acceptance of the Past

I’m pleased to offer this piece by guest writer, James Day Leavitt. (photo credit: Siobhán Butler) I imagine my past as a long hallway, with doors along each side of the corridor. Behind some doors are my difficult experiences. Things I don’t want to see anymore.  Regrets, mistakes, animosities, hostilities, hurts and lost loves. I don’t want to replay these things. They are uncomfortable to see. I am embarrassed and would like to start fresh, new, and unencumbered by the past. That’s why re-birth, and absolution of ones sins is so popular a concept. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy (memory energy) going back and checking the doors to make sure they are secure, locked, or at least mostly closed. I get scared they may come out and poison what I have made or are about to make     . . . read more

Becoming Self-Assured: It’s Helpful, Not Selfish

Being self-assured yields kindness and contentment. This is contrary to what most of us were taught, and yet I’m increasingly sure that it is true. This is why, in my recent post about being self-assured, I questioned the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary about words “related” to self-assured: vain, egotistical, pompous. In my mind, being self-assured means being on one’s own team, with a commitment to working on the skills and internal resources that help us through new challenges. It means having trust in one’s own ability to show up and figure it out regardless of what life throws our way. I think there is a real problem when we equate working on things like positive self-talk, emotional regulation, wellness, and self-care with being “vain” “egotistical” and “selfish.” I hear this quite frequently in my office. Many really nice people think it’s     . . . read more

What Does it Mean to Be Self-Assured?

Can being self-assured help us to go boldly into unknown life territory? This is a question I’ve been thinking about lately. But what does it mean to be self-assured? To me, it seems like a very desirable quality, something to cultivate in oneself and in our children. In my curiosity, I did some research. According to Merriam-Webster Online, the term means “sure of oneself: self-confident.” It says that related words include: vain, egotistical, pompous. I partly agree, but I have some issues with this definition and with the “related” words. I guess this begs the questions: Who am I to take issue with the dictionary? Am I self-assured or really pompous after all?! In my mind, being self-assured means having a sense that one can make it through what life throws our way. It means cultivating helpful self-talk and being     . . . read more

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