You ever put a bunch of wires in a box on a shelf?  If you wait just a little while, you end up with an impossibly tangled box of wires.  It seems that you can leave it undisturbed on a shelf for  months and when you go to retrieve one, somehow they are all got tangled together.  This phenomenon does not seem to occur unless there are more than two wires.  Two wires in a box are easy to untangle if they do get tangled. 

Relationships are a lot like wires in a box.  If the relationship is just two people, issues can get sorted out pretty quickly. It may be that the two people agree to disagree or decide they aren't going to "go there".  Two people can decide they don't like each other and decide they will allow a generous amount of space between them.   Put three peo...

"You will never get enough of what you don't want to make you happy."  

Tammy was never satisfied.  She didn't have enough business and she didn't have enough time off.  She didn't really like her house, her car, her dog... Her friends often annoyed.  Even though her husband thought she was beautiful, she didn't agree.

What was the problem?  Why could she never be satisfied?  Why couldn't she have what he wanted?

Truth be told, she never thought she could have what she wanted.  Growing up in a family that financially struggled to make it, she never got what she wanted. Her parents loved her and did the best they could.  On a good day, she almost got what she wanted.  So, she held the idea that if she was lucky she could be satisfied with having something close to what she...

When I find myself in the round and round of a bad mental habit, I begin to look for the trigger.  It is always about me, my thoughts/beliefs, my fears, and my defensiveness.

I use these sentence stems and fill in the blanks to get my answer.

I am afraid....

I don't want to admit....

I feel inadequate about....

By completing any of these sentences, I usually get my answer. For example:

I am afraid... I can't succeed; I'm not good enough; he will leave.

I don't want to admit....I was wrong; I don't know; I can't do it.

I feel inadequate about...my body; my past; my finances.

When you get to the trigger, you will know because your answer resonates on a deep level.  These responses will also lead you to the feelings you are resisting.  With this awareness, you can stop the round and round [Lynn, chang...

April 27, 2020

I recently heard the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom correcting the terminology from social distancing to physical distancing. He explained how young people are socially connected through social media which is okay to to continue. It's the physical closeness that needs to change for now. It is hard to predict how long physical distancing will need to continue but one thing is certain, we need social connection more than ever.

Generations that grew up before social media became socially connected through physical closeness. We met other parents sitting next to each other on bleachers or in school auditoriums. We worshiped next to each other on pews.  We met in bars, restaurants and coffee shops at small tables within ear shot of each other.  All of these environments were desi...

April 18, 2020

When I find myself in the round and round of a bad mental habit, I begin to look for the trigger.  It is always about me; my thoughts/beliefs; my fears; and my defensiveness.

I use these sentence stems and fill in the blanks to get my answer.

I am afraid....

I don't want to admit....

I feel inadequate about....

By completing any of these sentences, I usually get my answer.

For example:

I am afraid... I can't succeed; I'm not good enough; he will leave.

I don't want to admit....I was wrong; I don't know; I can't do it.

I feel inadequate about...my body; my past; my finances.

When you get to the trigger, you will know because your answer resonates on a deep level.  These responses will also lead you to the feelings you are resisting.  With this awareness, you can stop the round and round and...

Amy is actually a very functional person. She is very competent as a paralegal and her attorney often says he couldn't practice law without her. She is a loving and supportive parent, she has good friends and gets along with most of her family, but somehow, her primary relationship is always a train wreck.

The people around her can't understand how such a great person can't find the right relationship. She would desperately love to find "the one", but she has been burned so many times she is afraid to put herself out there again. She doesn't trust men and she doesn't trust herself to pick men.

As a therapist, when I see this pattern of dysfunctional relationships, I look for the cause in their family of origin. As a matter of fact, the three most important questions I ask every client in the...

March 21, 2019

Have you ever started a healthy eating plan only to find that the people who are closest to you sabotage your efforts? Is this passive aggressive? Do they feel threatened about the change you are making? Do they feel guilty about their eating when you are eating healthy? Is it all unintentional and they are unaware of what they are doing?

Truth be told we can never be sure what is going on in other people's minds. It's hard enough just noticing our own thoughts. Rather than figuring out the motives of the people around you, I think it is best to focus on their behavior and make a request. Since these are not necessarily familiar ways of communicating I will talk about the 2 issues separately –1) focusing on behavior and -2) making a request.

Let's say you start eating healthy and your partne...

February 19, 2019

The Power of I


We were videotaping a segment of the online version of Beneath the Weight –
here’s what happened.


“My customary eating style is Late Night Snacker. You know how at night while
you’re watching TV and . . .“


“Cut. That was good but use the word “I” instead of “you.”


“Okay.“ said Alex. “My customary eating style is Late Night Snacker. I like to watch
TV at night and you like something salty like potatoes chips. Next thing you know .
. .”


“Cut. Good, but you said ‘you’ again. I need you to say “I”.


“Crap! I did it again? Wow! I can’t believe I did that?


“It’s okay. It’s common. If you’re like all the other people we videotaped, it will
happen many more times.”


“Okay. My customary eating style is Late Night Snacker. You know how at night
while you are wat...

September 12, 2017

Expectations are beliefs (or opinions, or convictions, or fantasy) that somethings will happen or are likely to happen. We consciously and unconsciously generate expectations all of the time based on our personal and cultural history. It is rare that as adults we walk into any kind of social situation with no expectations. 

When we walk into a restaurant we expect to be given a menu. The mailman drops off the mail around noon. Your husband should be the one who mows the grass. He should remember your birthday. He should get you that necklace that you have dropped numerous hints about and plan a surprise vacation to the Bahamas.

Wait! What?

You see how quickly expectations can go from the ordinary into pure fantasy.  

Here’s what happened to a participant of the “Beneath the Weight” progra...

September 5, 2017

What is the real problem?
 

When a client comes in to see a therapist, they have usually identified their primary problem as they see it. Often their entire life view is centered around the presenting problem, and they have developed a well thought out and planned outcome when the issue is resolved. Often they view the presenting problem as their only problem, and when this problem is solved, everything will be great.

However, life is not just one problem. Life has many challenges, but one issue can get all the blame. When this happens, individuals often become hyper-focused on one issue and ignore what may be the actual issues. When a client presents with just one issue, I often ask, “what problem will you have when this problem goes away?” I get puzzled looks and responses like “I won't ha...

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