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Generosity and Love

I’m weary of assigning one day of the year to celebrate love. I’d like to re-frame Valentine’s Day a bit, if I may. How about if it’s one day of the year to be reminded how to stay loving? I believe that it’s in our words, thoughts, and actions that we truly express love. (Not so much in chocolates, flowers, or sexy…whatevers). When we really make the effort to be loving, we are being emotionally generous. I think this is what fuels a loving relationship throughout the years. Some ideas to help love flourish through generosity: Be generous with your assumptions. Try not to automatically assume that your loved one’s actions or words were ill-intended. Much of the time, mistakes are not intentional, let alone meant to be hurtful. Be generous with your words. Provide words of support, validation, positive     . . . read more

Can People Really Change?

I’m always a little surprised when I’m asked, “Can people really change?” Yes, people can really change. And if you’ll excuse the double negative, I’d say people can’t not change. While I’m not an expert on too many things, my humble observation is that everything changes. All the time. I don’t know about you, but I wake up older everyday. I know about homeostasis but I think it’s to keep us on some even keel as we experience change around us at every moment. Change happens, whether you believe you are in charge of it or not. If you don’t believe you are driving your own life, then change happens, you just didn’t give it much intention or direction. That’s a waste, because I really think we know what’s best for our own lives. So it bums me out when     . . . read more

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

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