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Too Nervous to Have Hard Conversations? Here are 3 Ways to Make it Less Difficult

It is inevitable in life that you will be faced with situations in which it is essential that you have an uncomfortable conversation. Look, I know that you want to be liked. You care about being seen as cooperative and agreeable. I get that it is a risk to come off as unlikable (especially for women). But we all need to face up to reality. Every aspect of our lives that allow us to thrive are threatened if we don’t accept that sometimes we have uncomfortable communication. Let me say it another way: we can’t have integrity, boundaries, morals, character, thoughts and feelings if we aren’t willing to express them when it’s important to do so. Even if other people don’t like what we are saying. Even if it will be awkward or there will be some feelings involved. These     . . . read more

Make Lasting Memories this Mother’s Day

As we approach Mother’s Day, I want to take a moment to reflect on spirit of this holiday which exists beyond the greeting cards and the Sunday brunches. My daughter is 7 this year, and I’ve been searching for ways to help this holiday bring lasting and meaningful memories for both of us. Recently, I attended a spiritual enrichment group that I meet with twice a month. The theme for this week was our grandparents. The group searched for memories of their grandparents as we talked. Some of the stories were heart-warming, others were marked with sadness and loss. As the meeting progressed, I had the opportunity to reflect on my experiences with my own grandparents, particularly my grandmother. One thing that surfaced was my experience of her being a kindred spirit for me. She was a strong, resilient and     . . . read more

Can Respectful Disagreement Bring Us Together?

Being a therapist has taught me that to disagree effectively is to build connection and unity. Talking in-depth for thousands of hours with dozens, if not hundreds, of people has had a profound impact on me. I am wiser, stronger, and happier than I would be otherwise, because I have connected with them and seen the world through their eyes. I also feel more clear that everyone makes sense in the context of their lives. Most people are coming from a good place most of the time. People make choices that reflect their life experience, what they were taught, and what they value. These things vary dramatically person to person, naturally. This seems obvious, but we see the world and speak from our own lens. Every single person has perspectives and internal narratives that are distorted, unhelpful, and just plain     . . . read more

When You Feel Powerless

Note from Hannah: This post is being republished post-election after many people reported feeling hopeless and powerless. I hope it is of some help.  Powerless. Helpless. Stuck. These are some of the very worst, most unpleasant ways to feel. Too often people experiencing these emotions are hesitant to get counseling, or even talk with friends, because they feel it will “do nothing.” This is based on the belief that the event or circumstance needs to change in order to feel better. The thought at the core of hopelessness is: The thing that’s already done must be different or else I will never feel better. This is not true. Getting unstuck is about navigating your responses and feelings more effectively- not changing external events. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think it’s essential to our well-being to cultivate healthier ways to     . . . read more

Love, Process, and Letting Go: What I Learned as My Daughter Made Valentines

“It will take one hundred years!” I said a bit (okay, a lot) immaturely to my 5 year-old daughter mimicking her usual phrase. She wanted to trace, cut out, decorate, and write names on 19 homemade heart-shaped valentines for her nursery school classmates. Wanting to avoid the time, imagined tears of frustration (hers and mine!), and perceived stress, I proposed I at least cut them out. I pictured hearts made with nice smooth scissor edges. That proposal was shot down. I hung out cleaning the kitchen instead, until it was painfully obvious I was not needed at all. Sometime later that afternoon, I was proven totally wrong. Those 19 valentines were done. My heart felt so full seeing them on the table after watching her plug away undaunted by the task at hand. These pieces of paper, which I doubt     . . . read more