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OMG! I have Election Stress Disorder!

Just when I thought all the years of therapy had finally done their magic, and that I’d be free at last, I discover that my fatigue, nail biting,  cynicism, and catastrophic thoughts about the future aren’t related to my crazy family upbringing, but about NOW, 2016 with this psycho election! The fact that I’m glued to the TV set, watching the pundits fight about whose crimes are worse, who’s a wuss, who’s really a psychothopathic liar, who’s fingers should be on the nuclear codes, is not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but all manifestations of my new diagnosis: Election Stress Disorder! AND, to make matters worse, I am apparently in good company with half the planet!

As a psychotherapist always keyed into actionable, positive change attitudes and behaviors, this one really stumps me. How do we all feel more hopeful and impactful when every day new dirt gets dug up on our candidates of “choice,” with Russia and Wikileaks playing their hand in events as well? This is a paranoid’s wet dream! One candidate is clearly a Neanderthal, the other cast as a disingenuous double talker. And, speaking of double talk, no one ever answers a question directly anymore, but on both sides they all pivot constantly, meaning deflect, avoid, spin! I pity the poor journalists who have to listen to this day in and day out without losing their cool!

Maybe the only hope for all of us with ESD is to remember that nothing lasts forever, that most truths come out in the wash eventually, that Election Day is less than a month away, and that until then, we all can put our fingers on the “Off” button when we’ve had enough. (Now, gotta go watch the final debate….)

“Marital Peace After An Affair” – BlogTalk Radio Show Wed. 7/27/16 8:30 PM EDT

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In this thirty minute episode I’ll co-host with Dr. Laura Louis, author of the popular book, “Marital Peace,” which is a valuable resource for supporting couples throughout the challenges of marriage.

Dr. Louis has specialized in helping distant couples heal after infidelity, and in the program discusses some of the ways she recommends rebuilding trust, rekindling intimacy and enhancing communication. Her therapeutic approach has been influenced through trainings in Brazil, Mexico, London and Haiti, as well as hundreds of transformative seminars all over the world.

Don’t miss this vital program if you and your spouse have endured or feel at risk for an affair! Learn some key tools to not only help avoid infidelity, but to restore trust, build forgiveness, and promote growth after an affair. You too can achieve marital peace after this traumatic development.

Call in live with questions or comments at 877-497-9046.

If you can’t make the live show you can listen to the podcast afterward at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager

One way or another, I hope you can join us!

Battle for The Truth

If you’re in a marriage or any kind of long term partnership, after the initial rose-colored glow has worn off, you’ve probably had the unpleasant experience of each seeing the same events very differently. Either you remember the “significant” details around the situation differently, or you have alternate realities about who said what, who did what, what was decided or who’s to blame. Sound familiar? If it does, you probably have also experienced some of the unsavory effects of this disconnect – like hostility, mistrust, disappointment, or hurt. If so, unfortunately, you’re in good company with half the planet.

I call this situation the “Battle for The Truth” – as though there were an objective reality or single “truth” to events. The hard thing is that “The Truth” is all about individual perspective, observation and context, so you may already realize that arguing over “The Truth” is usually fruitless.

If you’d like to learn more about how this plays out in relationships, signs it’s happening, long-term effects, and tools to put down your weapons, then tune into a terrific BlogTalk Radio program scheduled for Tuesday, February 2nd at 8PM EST: “The Texas Conflict Coach.” Host Pattie Porter, a famous conflict expert is having me on as her guest. Join us live on the show with questions or comments by calling (347)324-3591. If you can’t make the live show you can hear the recording on BlogTalk Radio at: http://www.texasconflictcoach.com/category/upcoming-shows/

Either way, hope you can join us!

BlogTalk Radio Episode: “I’m Talking! Are You Listening?” Tonight (Wed. 10/21) 8:15 PM EST

If you’ve ever felt stuck in conversations which seem to go nowhere, and feel the need for some good skills in this area, then don’t miss this episode!

In this next 30 minute BTR episode tonight, (Wednesday 10/21/15) at 8:30 PM I will teach you a vital secret tool for better communication, especially when there’s conflict surrounding an issue.

Call in live at toll-free 877-497-9046 to join me on the air with questions or comments. If you can’t make the live show catch the recording at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager anytime at your convenience.

If you or your partner tend to shut down, retreat, or yell at each other when you disagree, and the “conversation” goes south fast, then this show is for you. Moving forward, you’ll have the means to talk more calmly, take turns, listen better, lower reactivity and move toward solutions faster.

I hope you can join me!

Cheers,
Susan

*P.S. To get my book “I’m Talking! Are You Listening?” click on the link below to find it on my Amazon store. There are lots of tips and tools in there for much better communication.

BlogTalk Radio episode about conflict in the workplace airing Wednesday, 9/23 8:30 PM

Due to technical issues with BlogTalk Radio, unfortunately last month’s episode, “Workplace Relationships: Dealing with the Dreaded Drama of Conflict” never aired, and has been rescheduled to Wednesday, September 23rd at 8:30 PM.  My apologies for any inconvenience.

DO tune in to the rescheduled episode if you’ve experienced conflict at work and have felt dread and indecision about what to do. Or, if you have a manager who doesn’t handle conflict productively, you end up getting the short end of the stick, and again, dread dealing with the issue, then this show is for you!

My co-host Pattie Porter, The Texas Conflict Coach, is an expert in the field of conflict management, and will share her insights about the issues, along with some critical tools you can use to manage these situations more confidently and effectively.

Call 877-497-9046 to join us live on the air with questions or comments. If you can’t make the live show you can listen to the recording afterward at your convenience at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager

Rescheduled BlogTalk Radio Episode: “Workplace Relationships: Dealing with the Dreaded Drama of Conflict”

Due to technical issues with BlogTalk Radio, unfortunately last week’s episode never aired, and has been rescheduled to Wednesday, September 23rd at 8:30 PM.  My apologies for any inconvenience.

DO tune in to the rescheduled episode if you’ve experienced conflict at work and have felt dread and indecision about what to do. Or, if you have a manager who doesn’t handle conflict productively, you end up getting the short end of the stick, and again, dread dealing with the issue, then this show is for you!

My co-host Pattie Porter, The Texas Conflict Coach, is an expert in the field of conflict management, and will share her insights about the issues, along with some critical tools you can use to manage these situations more confidently and effectively.

Call 877-497-9046 to join us live on the air with questions or comments. If you can’t make the live show you can listen to the recording afterward at your convenience at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager

Ashley Madison Hack: Divorce Not An Inevitable Outcome!

If you or your spouse has been exposed as using the Ashley Madison site to seek an affair, stop and take a deep breath! (Apparently thousands of people have already flocked to lawyers to pull the trigger on impulsively decided divorces).  Driven by the hurt and humiliation of public exposure and profound betrayal, as a discovering spouse you are understandably experiencing the first waves of trauma that this news usually brings. Vengeance and assuaging the broken trust through divorce may seem like the only solution to you at this point.

As the unfaithful spouse you are probably traumatized in different ways: what may have seemed like a discreet, compartmentalized adventure without victims now feels real in its damaging consequences. You are now either bathed in shame and fear, or furious that you can no longer “have your cake and eat it too.” However justified you may feel for your infidelity you know that your world is about to become unravelled. You are about to take the hit for everything wrong with the marriage, and cannot imagine ever being forgiven. If you stay married you imagine a lifetime in the “doghouse.” Whichever end you’re on, the impulse on both sides is often to give up and get a divorce, convinced that healing and reconciliation would be impossible.

As a couples therapist who, for many years has worked with thousands of couples reeling from infidelity, I have a few strong pieces of advice:

  • Slow down!
  • Take some deep breaths!
  • Don’t make any rash decisions now!
  • Don’t impulsively file for divorce!

Here are some things you may NOT be aware of:

  • Many marriages can not only be saved, but strengthened after the trauma of infidelity. It requires a lot of determination, hard work, vision, and a good couples therapist the spouses both trust.
  • Many couples who impulsively divorce deeply regret that decision later on.
  • Children are often the biggest victims, especially in a contentious divorce.
  • If you don’t know what direction to take regarding your damaged marriage there is an alternative to couples therapy called Discernment Counseling. This is a brief treatment designed for couples where one spouse is leaning toward a divorce and the other wants to stay married. It is not geared toward tools and skills for repair, but instead focuses on helping partners make a decision about a direction for the marriage. Only trained Discernment Counselors can provide this service.
  • There are terrific books and support groups for couples wrestling with infidelity.
  • If you do decide to get a divorce you can have a healing, constructive process through Collaborative Law. Divorce doesn’t have to be an impoverishing dog fight.
  • There may be hope. There is help.

Anyone in the greater Boston area wanting more information, feel free to contact me at The Couples Center PLLC, in Portsmouth, NH: 603-431-7131.

 

Indecision and How it Can Drive You Nuts!

The chocolate chip waffle cone or the coffee sundae? An action movie or a heavy Indie film tonight? Swimming at the beach later, or kayaking on a lake? (Here are some examples of the small stuff many of us sweat, as though world peace depended on it).

Stay in the cushy job with the nasty boss or find a position elsewhere involving less perks but more appreciation and respect? Go to a state school or a private college? Forgive your old friend their insensitive behavior or let them go and find others who feel more conscious? Stay in the tired old marriage, work on repairing it, or move on to greener pastures?

They’re all examples of the kinds of things many of us agonize over, stuck in indecision. The first group, however, are the kinds of decisions nobody would get killed over – so what if you get the chocolate chip cone and forego the coffee sundae? Whether you go to the beach or the lake, if your desire is to be on, around, or in water, you’re good to go, either way! But when indecision becomes a kind of “condition” those different kinds of choices all feel like a plague, creating a kind of frozen “limbo land.”

If you see yourself in this picture, don’t fret! I’ve just had another article published in PsychCentral.com about this very topic, with tips and tools for how to develop your “decision muscles.” And yes, the good news is that its not necessarily a trait you came with at birth – its a skill you can develop with some practice and consciousness. To find the article, “6 Practical Pointers For Being Decisive When it Counts” go to: http://bit.ly/1E0gEqn  and stop obsessing!

(Or, if you can’t make up your mind, you could go to my “Media / Press” page to find the link, along with the links to all the other articles I’ve written, or for which I’ve been a contributing writer).

Discernment Counseling Update – Some Results and Impressions

I’ve been doing Discernment Counseling for several months at this point. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s a form of treatment specially designed for “mixed agenda” couples, where one person wants to continue the relationship and has hope for improving it, and the other person feels done and is “leaning out,” but hasn’t yet pulled the plug. It’s a one to five session form of treatment geared to help the couple move toward one of three choices:  stay in the status quo, or break up, or do the work of reconciliation. It’s a decisional therapy, not regular couples therapy which presumes mutual energy and commitment toward improving the relationship. It is designed to help “couples on the brink” avoid the time, expense and frustration of  half-hearted couples therapy). I can tell you right now that it works! I don’t yet have any hard statistics, but in my experience so far I’ve found that this way of working really resonates for couples in this dilemma for the following reasons, among many:

  1. Both partners tend to feel understood and honored, as nobody is being “sold” the continuation of the relationship. Instead, the three paths are intricately explored, with each partner exploring their own part in the negative history, as well as in possibilities for change of any kind.
  2. The “leaning out” partner doesn’t feel pursued or pressured to stay in the relationship by the therapist (who often in regular couples therapy would mirror the pursuit of the “leaning in” partner by encouraging strategies for improving things). Instead, they are given space to explore any ambivalence they may have about moving on, as well as space to look at their own contributions to the situation.
  3. The “leaning in” partner is helped to look at how to bring their best self to the work, and not humiliate themself in the process, as well as exploring their understanding and willingness to address their partner’s concerns.
  4. Clients report really appreciating the format, where we begin the session by meeting all together, then each is seen individually while the other leaves the room, ending with us all reconvening so partners can share their thoughts and feelings about what they have each gained or taken from their individual sessions. I get regular feedback about how each person feels safer having their own time with me to look at the issues, and what they want to convey to their partner about what they’ve learned.
  5. I observe a tremendous lessening of defensiveness and commotion without both partners in the room at all times, given free reign to talk at each other. There is very strict protocol for each segment of the sessions. This is not a free-for-all, duplicating the toxic dance the couple has already been doing. It’s a carefully guided exploration.
  6. So far, this form of treatment has moved most seemingly intractable couples toward a more solid, trusted decision about their future relationship.

I am in the process of pursuing advanced training in this work, so I can envision ironing out some of the kinks which come up, like the time management piece – (there’s lots to cover in a particular sequence each session, something a bit foreign to my more organic way of working). There are also unique dilemmas presented by each couple which require attention and sensitivity. We’re nowhere near perfect, but Discernment Counseling is experienced as a whole different thing by couples on the brink of a split.

For any “mixed agenda” couple interested in getting out of a stalemate around the direction of your relationship, feel free to contact me in my Portsmouth office to further discuss the possibility of doing Discernment Counseling with me. I have some openings at this point, but expect that as we move into the Fall my availability will be much more limited, as it usually is when Summer ends.

BlogTalk Radio Episode: “What’s Your Conflict Style?” Wednesday 5/28/14 8:30 PM EST

In this 45 minutes episode, Susan Lager co-hosts with Meredith Richardson, a collaborative lawyer, mediator and conflict coach on the Southern New England coast. Hosting other events together, such as couples retreats, the two women bring their own spin to the issue of conflict in marriage as well as in friendships and in the workplace. Lager and Richardson explore the different conflict styles, and explore how each of us learns to manage conflict based on earlier experiences and adaptations to those environments.

  • Find out what triggers you and why, and how you manage it well or badly.
  • Take one of the recommended Conflict Quizes to find out more about your own conflict style
  • Get some ideas for avoiding the “same old fight'” with your partner! Get a head’s up on getting along better with your spouse, friends, and co-workers!

Call in toll-free 877-497-9046 at 8:30 EST to just listen in, or to join the conversation on the air with questions or comments. Don’t miss this one – it should be lively!

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Susan Lager

I am a licensed, board certified pyschotherapist and relationship coach in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Through my psychotherapy or coaching services, I can provide you with skills and tools to transform your life.

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