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I Wonder

I don’t have the answer. I really don’t think there is one answer to most complicated human questions. Often there are many steps that lead us towards better outcomes. This is true on the individual level and I think it must be true on the societal level as well. When people first come into therapy, I try to advocate for taking small steps that can’t hurt. Often these small steps make things a lot better. We tend to underestimate how helpful small steps can be. When the problem is bigger and more complicated, like when people kill innocent victims, I wonder if some of the same ideas can apply. What if we all did something that doesn’t hurt? Even if it’s not the answer, I have to wonder, what would happen if…. we chose to articulate each day the things     . . . read more

Surviving the Holidays with Your Family

Ever wonder if you are the only one who walks through the door of a family gathering and reverts to behaviors and mannerisms that have been mostly dormant for decades? I can fully assure you that it is extremely common, if not universal. I hear this complaint in my office (okay plenty in my private life too). It usually sounds like this, “I don’t know what it is but when I get together with my family, it’s like I’m a 13-year-old all over again.” Needless to say, this is a huge topic around the holidays when there is a high concentration of extended family togetherness. Why is this? My observation is that it can be a number of factors that make you prone to this situation. For some people, it is that their families have out-of-date stories about them. Or     . . . read more

Surviving the Holidays Even When You Don’t Feel Festive

If life has been difficult, the holidays can be especially trying. For people who have been laid off of work, are struggling financially, dealing with a loss, or struggling with life changes, trying to find cheer during the holiday season is tough. The truth is that not every holiday season can be completely joyous. Grief, stress, anxiety and depression do not stop for the Christmas season. If anything, these feelings tend to intensify. We tend to compare the current holiday season with ones from the past. Much unhappiness comes from making these types of comparisons. Things change year to year. We will never re-create the exact same memories or situations. This does not represent a failure or a sign that things will never feel better. It is just a natural process of change. Most of us will not have abundance,     . . . read more

Comfort Through Connection

It has been dreary here in Maine this October. It’s easy to feel down when the darkness, cold and rain are present, especially after a bright and beautiful summer. Naturally, we all want to find some comfort and warmth to ease the damp chill outside. I’ve noticed that many people think comfort is about numbing out or becoming detached. Activities that could promote mindlessness include watching TV, eating, drinking, getting lost in the internet, and looking at things to buy. I’m not saying that these activities are bad. They just aren’t likely to have a lasting positive impact on mood. In other words, they may not provide true comfort. Comfort really comes from tuning in: being connected to ourselves, our environment, and to others. There is comfort in providing a pleasant experience to our senses, that makes us keenly aware,     . . . read more

The Truth About Procrastination

I have always heard from self-proclaimed procrastinators that they “need the pressure in order to perform.” I used to accept this as a legitimate reason to procrastinate, feeling that if it works for people then it’s fine. But somewhere down the line, this way of reasoning has lost its validity. Now I say to you procrastinators everywhere, “Procrastinate if you want, but you don’t need the pressure, you choose it.” So there. I’m calling you out on this one because I care. Really, I do. I’ve already outlined all the reasons I believe procrastination sucks the life out of you. Time to take away its power. I’ve put my health correspondent on the task of compiling all the research studies of how procrastination makes you ill. But for now, you’ll have to accept antidotal evidence that it just isn’t good     . . . read more

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