If you look carefully at this badge you’ll see that Feedspot has named my blog as one of the top 100 Marriage Counseling blogs on the internet! This is a big deal, as I seem to be in the company of some real big shots like John Gottman and Sue Johnson, world famous therapists and authors of several best selling books. Little ole me! (Here’s the list link, in case you think I’m pulling your leg): http://blog.feedspot.com/marriage_counseling_blogs/
This is an example of how when passion and determination intersect, you can accomplish things you never would have believed you could. In my case I started out not even knowing how to turn on a computer about ten years ago – really! But I was determined to share some things that I did know in an effort to market my business, and empower others through psychological information I’ve acquired about relationships.
In the process I discovered that I absolutely love to write, even though the writing may not always come out so smoothly. I also discovered that the technological functions needed to maneuver around a blog and website aren’t all rocket science! I taught myself how to upload and download, insert links and widgets, adjust different design elements, and even in some cases how to manage HTML code!
I must admit that some of my biggest meltdowns have been internet related, especially when I didn’t have a clue about what the problem was or how to fix it. A few years ago in the midst of writing a compelling blogpost I accidentally spilled a fresh white wine spritzer onto my laptop, and bang! Blogpost vaporized and no more laptop! So, it’s been a bit of a rocky road getting to this point, but there’s no stopping me now – I have so much I’ve learned over many years of working with individuals and couples, such great information I’ve accumulated through trainings and mentors, fantastic things I’ve learned from books and podcasts, and some real bits of wisdom I’ve picked up from other blogs. (Not to mention some vital life experiences of my own)…
So, whether your passion is writing, styling hair, building bridges, or breeding dogs, honor it with time, teachers and patience, and you’ll be giving yourself and others a precious gift.
PS. Another admission: I still haven’t figured out how to find the time to respond to the thousands of comments I get on my posts. Readers are so courteous, smart, helpful and supportive, and I hate the idea of using automated responses. It seems cold and rude. Time continues to be the enemy, as I also love my full time job as a psychotherapist, and am not about to give that up until they drag me away in a cart. So, if you’ve left an unanswered comment, please forgive me, but know how much your feedback means to me!
Do you have a friend or relative who consistently screws up, forgets things, fails to follow through, or in one way or the other doesn’t take care of their own “life business”? If so, you may be in the presence of “learned helplessness.”
Unless these people are clinically depressed or physiologically compromised, this state often has more to do with someone operating at a “youngest sibling” level, expecting that others know more, are more capable, and can assume responsibility for things. They have usually developed unconscious life “scripts” about being inept, or ignorant or incapable, often not challenging these deeply held beliefs. As a result, they lack a sense of “agency,” the courage to try new solutions, and the ability or willingness to try to act effectively on their own behalf.
Your friend or relative may make lame decisions or procrastinate endlessly, and is likely to create a need on your part to take over and rescue them. If you feel that you’re watching someone who operates like a train wreck in slow motion, and that you can’t seem to help yourself from taking over to fix things, then you may be a target of their “learned helplessness”! People who demonstrate this are usually experts at training the people around them to go into overdrive “rescue” mode. They often don’t directly ask for help, but seem to be so helpless that the people around them feel they have to take over.
And don’t be fooled – their “helplessness” is generally very powerful! They get you to take over, pay for things, organize things, make appointments, ask the right questions, and generally fix whatever problems they are faced with.
So, if you’ve been feeling exhausted in a relationship which plays out with this “parent – child” dynamic, and feel that there’s a lack of reciprocity, or that you’re pouring lots of effort down a bottomless pit, watch out! You may be feeding someone’s “learned helplessness”! Consider backing off into a more supportive or facilitative role, allowing them to struggle more directly with problems, and learn that they can direct their power more appropriately into developing solutions for themselves. You’ll be doing yourself, your friend and the relationship a giant service.
If you feel that you need help to deal with this issue in any of your relationships feel free to contact me for an appointment.
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:
It was finally time after almost ten years, for me to part ways with my trusty old office couch. It was beautiful and comfy, but badly soiled and worn, as you can see, after being the repository for thousands of hours of client’s struggles and triumphs. Oh, the stories this tired old couch had heard!
I’d spent months noticing how the cushions were getting more frayed and soiled, obsessing about whether I should have it re-upholstered, (and how would I ever do that?), or to just let it go, hopefully to a new home. Back and forth, decided and undecided I remained for months and months. Now the issue was less about the condition of the couch but my lack of confidence about the “right” decision!
I finally pulled the trigger, after days of measuring and re-measuring, (I’d bought a couch in the past I had to return because they couldn’t get it in the door!) I found what I thought was a perfect replacement and made plans for the Salvation Army to pick up the old couch. Before they arrived I was caught in yet another wave of self doubt: Did I measure correctly? Would it fit? Would the new one match or be comfortable enough? Did I really do my homework diligently about all this? Was it fair to just discard a couch that had served my clients and me so faithfully? (Does this kind of self-doubt feel familiar to you?) After several agonizing hours I decided to try to trust my perceptions and diligence, and move forward. Unfortunately, I wasn’t rewarded for the moment of decisiveness when the Salvation Army rejected the donation – “too worn.” With the new one arriving the next day, should I keep the old couch if I had nowhere else to put it? More indecision, and I’m the therapist?
I finally broke the bad trance, deciding this issue wasn’t about world peace, and that I should try to trust my perceptions, as I’m usually a very thorough person. Worst case scenario, I’d have two couches, one parked in the waiting room, and a new one in my office. I put a “free couch” sign on the old one, and within an hour a mother took down my number, exclaiming how perfect this old couch would be for her son who was moving into his own apartment. He wouldn’t be put off by the optics of it, but would love the functionality, especially since it was a full size sleeper as well. Long story short, the new couch arrived the next day, fit perfectly in my office and looks beautiful, and the kid came the next day to pick up his new treasure.
I can only guess what fun he and his roommates will have imagining the therapy dramas his new couch holds. Hopefully, he won’t doubt his own decision to give the old girl a new home just because she’s a little worn out. And hopefully, next time I won’t invite the curse of self doubt into what could be an exciting decision. Maybe? Maybe not…….
Don’t miss my next 45 minute BlogTalk Radio episode, “Life Your Way” – A Talk with Author Amy Wood.” We’ll discuss this prize-winning, vital book which provides a compelling approach on how to manage the constant “Go! Do! Be Better!” stresses of 21st century American life.
Get some really useful insights on how you can use your instincts and intuition to find balance and confidence, and how to move more intentionally toward a happier, more fulfilling life.
Call toll-free 877-497-9046 to join us on the air with questions or comments, or to just listen and benefit from the conversation about such an important topic.
Can’t make the live show? Catch the recording afterward at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager
It’s been about a month since I’ve posted, and I’m happy to say, I’m back! With the holiday busyness, a surprising surge of clients, a nasty virus and some minor surgery, it feels like my life got hijacked.
But, there was also another culprit responsible for my absence: overthinking! I’m somewhat of a perfectionist to begin with, so my mind tends to over-review details in an effort to get things right, or just so. What prompted this post however, were two situations in particular: learning Quickbooks to enter details about my business expenses for my accountant, and a return to skiing for the first time this season.
Quickbooks is a ripe medium for overthinking: tons of little details with specific ways to enter information appropriately. I thought I’d learn to do it myself rather than spend the time and money outsourcing it to a bookkeeper. What I found is that it’s an arena with loads of uncertainties if you’re a beginner, especially not a financial professional. So it’s been about a month of torture, with countless hours of entries, checking and rechecking, all on weekends when “normal” people are having some fun! Here’s what Psychology Today says about overthinking:
“The human mind hates uncertainty. Uncertainty implies volatility, randomness, and danger. When we notice information is missing, our brain raises a metaphorical red flag and says, “Pay attention. This could be important…” When data is missing, we overestimate its value. Our mind assumes that since we are expending resources locating information, it must be useful.”
(So there I was)…..
Then I went skiing again for the first time this season on my new “shaped” skis, and found myself reviewing all the instructions about proper form and perfectly executed turns I’d learned from lessons in the past. It took me about five runs before it occurred to me to just have some fun and let muscle memory set in. The ensuing runs were exuberant, and nobody got killed!
So here are a few of my antidotes for overthinking things:
1. Just do it! Take action, be willing to make “mistakes,” and be in the moment of the experience, so you get out of your head. If you’re overthinking your motivation, then make your motivation the “caboose,” not the “locomotive.” You can think about your motivation on the tail end after you’ve taken action – i.e., as with exercise.
2. Distract an overactive mind by directing your attention elsewhere – focus on the desired end result you imagine, like with skiing, do some mental rehearsal, envisioning yourself flying down the mountain with joy, rather than obsessing on the details of each turn.
3. Practice regular meditation, daily exercise, and when all else fails, get some medication to calm down your obsessional thinking.
So, for all of us over thinkers the task is also to accept that life is filled with uncertainty, to trust that uncertainties usually won’t kill us, and to relinquish our illusions of control. It’s an Eastern thing….
As a couples therapist I routinely talk to my clients about the ambiguous road ahead of them in working on repairing and enriching their relationships. The work is generally fraught with uncertainty and likely setbacks, as is the case with most hard earned changes. This discussion always involves the issue of what each partner needs to “stay in the game,” or what would they minimally require of themselves and each other to maintain hope, energy and good faith in the process.
What each of us needs to “stay in the game” applies to any endeavor which doesn’t produce immediate lovely results. Last week, after three years of often grueling work, I received my official documentation awarding me the trademark for the name “Couplespeak.” I had invented the name for a division of my company which would provide coaching products and services live and online. Getting the trademark with proprietorial rights to the name required me to write books, articles, eBooks, develop workshops, training programs, blogs, videos, a BlogTalk Radio program, and to manage multiple internet platforms.
Mind you, all the while I’ve had a full time private psychotherapy practice, and started with very little interest in the internet and tech devices three years ago. But I loved the name “Couplespeak,” and believed that if I could live long enough I could grow it into something really significant. The whole process required that to finish, I stay in the game, the Couplespeak game. I had to devise ways of making myself accountable, and maintaining my passion for the project. I had to enlist the support of my friends and family. I had to learn when to take breaks and when to force myself back into the effort. Just as anyone requires in any big, meaningful project, I needed to keep up my faith in myself, and my faith in the work itself. And now, just as anyone would, I’ll need to allow this “finish” to become the remarkable start of something else, a new game…..
PS. For copies of my new books about staying sane in the relationship game, go to Amazon: http://amzn.to/12ALenB
(If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the last few weeks, I’ve been shoveling.) Only, kidding, that’s just been the scene for the last few hours, getting ready for yet another snow storm, so the new ten inches doesn’t collapse the deck with the 6 inch ice base underneath. Ah, New England……..
Now that all your presents are unwrapped, (and hopefully, already paid for), the guests have gone home, (or if they’re leaving from New England, they are TRYING to go home amidst this second post Christmas blizzard), the leftovers are in the fridge, (hopefully you have leftovers, and didn’t eat it ALL), you’re filled with more good memories, (hopefully it wasn’t a nightmare holiday), and you too, are looking forward to the New Year, with new chances to do better, or to just do some new, adventurous things.
As for me, I’m about to publish my second workbook called, “Become Relationship Smart Without A Lifetime Of Therapy.” It’s all about how to do better in all your key relationships. It’s been quite a haul getting it done, but I think you’ll love it as I do, and benefit tremendously from the tools and insights I’ve provided in the book. You’ll be able to buy it on Amazon in late January 2013!
So, what’s the point? Try new things in the new year, or you’ll get stale and rusted! What’s the worst that could happen? Failure? Mistakes? So what? Unless we get hit by a truck, there are usually more chances to do whatever it is better, or to let it go. Mistakes, as I say, are “valuable information potentially used for new learning”. Here’s to courage! Here’s to mistakes!
Gotta go help with more shoveling. The snow has arrived, and the Snowblower Guy, my husband, probably could use the moral support.
I’m in the home stretch for the completion of my second book, “Become Relationship Smart Without A Lifetime Of Therapy.”
I think I now understand first hand what the dilemma is for so many people about finishing a project! When you’re involved in a project which is meaningful to you it’s like getting married. You make a supposed commitment to do your best and hang in there “in sickness and in health.” You often do it publicly, like having a wedding. You tell your friends and family about it, and they become invested as well, so if you bag it, it’s similar to the humiliation of a divorce – you feel like a failure who’s let everyone down. Or worse, people don’t take you seriously after that around your passions and projects.
Is the solution to just not try to accomplish too much to avoid all this aggravation? No, I think it’s a better idea to closely monitor your negative self talk and your possible self sabotaging behaviors, then remind yourself why you bothered with the project to begin with, to reinforce your motivation to get to the finish line. I’m going to do just that with the book. Not think about it too much, and plow forward, reminding myself why I’ve bothered. When you see the book posted on Amazon.com you’ll know I made it to the finish line. If and when you read the book, you too will know why I bothered.
Laura Rivchun, Chrysalis Career Coaching
Don’t miss this important BTR episode, “Staying Positive While Looking For Work.” My co-host is Laura Rivchun, Principal at Chrysalis Career Coaching. Together we’ll be discussing the challenges people in career transitions face, particularly in this tough job market. Laura will share her insights and tips for how to “stay in the game” successfully, as well as what things NOT to do if you want to keep your options open.
Call in toll-free at 877-497-9046 to just listen in, or to join us live on the air with your questions or comments. If you can’t make the live show, catch the recorded episode at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager