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Marital Crisis After An Affair

Although tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, not everyone in a marriage will be celebrating.  If you are in a marriage and have experienced infidelity or an affair, then you know how painful a close relationship can become. As the hurt spouse you have been robbed of trust, joy, self trust, your history as you’ve known it, a feeling of specialness, and most importantly, any secure sense of the future you had anticipated. Certainly, the romance and promise of Valentine’s Day has been shattered, at least for now.

If your spouse who has had an affair minimizes the circumstances and your response to it, trust that it is a function of their dread of consequences, / their entitlement, / their refusal to take responsibility for their behavior, and certainly their lack of empathy for the impact on you. Get support from a trusted friend, family member, group, and especially, a  therapist. Whatever you do, DON’T buy into your spouse’s denial about the seriousness of the situation. Get help, and honor your experience of grief and betrayal as valid. Know that you or you and your spouse are probably ill equipped to go this alone!

Here are two terrific, must-read books I recommend to anyone who has or is currently going through this ordeal. One provides invaluable insights about the process, including the challenges and mandates for the “hurt spouse” as well as the “affair spouse.” The second book, about forgiveness, provides choices for how to move on, and vital repair tools for individuals and couples:

The Winter Blues: Make Peace with the Season or Be Miserable!

IMG_8362.JPG Susan at Lincoln Woods, NH 1:15:17 with friends

This past weekend it was a balmy 24 degrees for the high on most of Saturday and Sunday here in the Northeast. Many of you might grimace at this information, especially if you live in Maine or New Hampshire and routinely experience a six month winter. You’re even more likely to look at this photo of me on the Lincoln Woods trail, deep in the heart of the mountains, and think I’m crazy, right? What you may not realize is that, along with some good friends and my husband I was practicing the art of making peace with the cold, given the fact that we can’t change it and would certainly get very depressed hanging around inside all winter. (What you can’t see in this particular photo is the fact that all four of us had just driven two hours North to see the Ice Castles, basically, an ambitious bunch of ice towers near Loon Mountain – all freezing stuff)!

But, there’s method to the madness: Get out in nature after you’ve sufficiently bundled up, experience it’s beauty, yield to it, and you’ll be taking a natural anti-depressant! So, whatever feels most comfortable to you – downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, ice skating, or just plain trail walking with your dog, if you have one – any of these activities will help you not only get through the very long New England winter, but will give you exercise, social contact, a happy dog and communion with nature. All very good things….

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….)

Self Criticism: Silence It With the Ultimate Nuclear Weapon

self criticsm photo: self DSCN0769zcopycopy.jpg

Many of us become our own worst enemies by putting ourselves down and focusing on our weaknesses or negative qualities. If you are prone to this, it’s important to know that a bit of self critical thinking can become motivation for positive change and growth, but when you go overboard with it, feeling worthless, incapable of effective action, etc., it prevents you from taking healthy risks because it robs you of confidence in your own capabilities. It raises anxiety and stress, and can lead to depression.

Most of us already know about the importance of learning to accept our mistakes as part of learning, and being kinder and softer to ourselves in general. We’ve also heard a lot about looking for solutions to problems instead of berating ourselves about them. But here is the ultimate nuclear weapon to blast away self criticism: The Howitzer Mantras.

Because self critical talking and behavior is driven by habit and reflex, its important to find words or phrases that are designed to hit the critic like a cannon blast. When you hear your internal critic saying nasty, derogatory things about yourself use a mantra that helps you feel angry and outraged, like “Screw you!,” “Stop this crap!” “Shut up!” “Get off my back!” Use the anger and indignation as a productive way to drown out the critic. Yell out loud if you can, but most importantly, mentally shout the mantras at the critic.

If using the mantras alone is insufficient, take a stronger measure by putting a rubber band around your wrist and snap it while subvocalizing your mantra. By doing this you’re emphasizing your stop commands and making thought interruption more likely. The sharp, stinging sensation breaks the chain of negative thoughts and acts as a punisher so that the critic is less likely to attack in the near future.

Try this method as a routine way to silence your damning critic and you’ll be amazed at the results!

“Healing Trauma Through Yoga – Hope for Survivors” BTR Show 2/5/15 8:30 PM EST

I’m very excited to announce this upcoming BlogTalk Radio episode about Trauma Sensitive Yoga with Lisa Boldin, a graduate of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, and specialist practitioner in this unique form of Yoga.

In this episode we’ll discuss the unique advantages of Trauma Sensitive Yoga for anyone who is struggling with anxiety, emotional stress, or trauma related to experiences such as sexual assault, military combat, or domestic violence.

Call in toll-free at 877-497-9046 to share comments or ask questions about this Yoga. Or, listen live streaming (or later to the recording) at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager where you will learn more about how and why this practice offers unique benefits for coping with PTSD. You won’t want to miss this show!

“Staying Positive While Looking For Work” BlogTalk Radio episode!

Newsflash! On Wednesday, October 17th at 8:30 PM EST I’ll be doing a BlogTalk Radio episode about this very vital and timely topic. My co-host will be Laura Rivchun, a career coach and mentor from New York City, who will share her insights about the issues people encounter, facing unemployment, and how to manage the process successfully. We’ll be talking about tools for maintaining a positive attitude and avoiding despair and isolation, as well as specific actions to maximize your opportunities to get the best work.

Don’t miss this episode! You can catch it live streaming at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager  or call toll-free at: 877-497-9046 to just listen, or to join us live on the air with questions or comments. Either way, hope you’re with us!

End Of Summer 2012 – New England Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Here we are, amazingly in September, when just yesterday it was the beginning of June! Where did the time go? I think most (normal) people feel a twang of sadness at this time of year, saying goodbye to the sweet, long days of summer, when you don’t have to wear socks or coats, or worry about the cold, and the snow.

But in New England, it’s another thing entirely. People here grieve the end of the carefree warmth and sunshine. Typical conversations focus on charming things like: When are you getting a generator? Do you have a decent snowblower? Did you get a roof rake yet? Does that new car you bought have 4 wheel drive? Have you winterized your shrubs? Did you bring in the air conditioners? How’s your winter coat? Did you paint the side of the house yet? Have you raked all the leaves? Did you drain your septic while the ground is unfrozen? Do you have good boots? How are your knees doing? (You’ll need them).

The list of “to do’s” goes on and on, as New Englanders grieve and prepare for:

 piles of snow

– cabin fever

– Nor’Easters

– frigid temperatures

– dark mornings

– dark evenings

– shoveling

– slipping and sliding

– black ice accidents

– gaining weight, etc., etc…………

I call it New England Seasonal Affective Disorder, something unique to us in our little corner of the globe. We adore our measly little summers. We love our glorious Fall, but whine incessantly about winter coming. Then when winter is actually here, we marvel at its beauty while we ski, ice skate and snowshoe, or sit by our blazing fires reading books, talking to our spouses, playing instruments, cooking, doing projects. Ah, winter……

The irony is that only a fraction of us New Englanders would trade it all in for a condo in a gated community in Florida. Okay to visit, but no thanks. We’ll stick with our ice and snow, and our seasonal schizophrenia, because we’re tough, and besides, it’s so beautiful here!

Hang in there, (the days get longer again after December 21st!)
Susan Lager

Tools And Treatment For Negative Thoughts, Obsessiveness, And Anxiety

If you or anyone you know suffers from intrusive thoughts, anxiety, or depression, then tune into my BlogTalk Radio show tonight at 8:30 PM. My co-host is Louise Beck, LICSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. She also does training and workshops on the subject nationally, and internationally, so she’s the expert on this subject.

You can call in toll-free at 877-497-9046, and be able to join us live on the air with your questions or comments, or catch the show live streaming at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager

If you can’t make the hour long show at 8:30 PM you can always listen to an archived recording of it on my showpage, “The Couplespeak Relationship Forum,” (same URL). I hope you can join us one way or the other! We’ll all learn a lot!

Cheers,
Susan Lager

Negative Thinking And Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Tools

If you are a victim of negative thinking with all its distortions and catastrophic themes, tune into my next BlogTalk Radio episode on Wednesday, July 18th at 8:30 PM.  My co-host will be Louise Beck, LICSW, a renowned specialist in this field, who travels the world training and inspiring people to use the time-tested tools of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. You CAN learn to manage your negative thoughts so they don’t manage you!

Call in toll-free at 877-497-9046 to join us live on the air with your questions or comments, or catch this episode of The Couplespeak Relationship Forum live streaming at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager  If 8:30 PM is past your bedtime, you can always listen to the recorded show at the same site when you’re more awake.

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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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