Couplespeak™ Blog

Depressing Things We Say

  • “You never know……”
  • “What next!”
  • “Here we go again”
  • “It’s always something!”
  • “Whatever….”
  • “Beats me….”
  • “I can’t win!”
  • “For crying out loud!”
  • “Son of a bitch!”
  • “Oy vey!”
  • “For the love of God!”
  • “Sue me!”
  • “Gag me with a wooden spoon!”
  • “They shoot horses, don’t they?”
  • “Life sucks.”
  • “Life is short, and then you die.”
  • “Why bother?”
  • “Who cares?”
  • “You can’t trust anyone!”

How often do you say things like this, and what does it do to your mood?

Think about it………
Susan Lager

Take The Self-Talk Test

I work with couples every day around the issue of managing perceived hurts, disappointments, and insults. One partner says or does something, and the other partner reacts to it internally before formulating a response. This initial internal response is usually about a thought the receiver has about what he or she perceives has just happened. It comes in the form of self talk, something the receiver says to him or herself about the occurrence. It generally involves some “meaning making” or interpretation of the event. (example: “He keeps forgetting the shopping list because I’m not that important to him!”). This critical self talk part of the process colors the whole ensuing event. What people say to themselves then effects the feelings about the event, and ultimately the behavior related to it.

So, listen to your self talk, and take this quick test:

  1. Are you routinely assigning negative meanings to your partner’s behavior? (List them).
  2. Might there be more benign meanings for it? What would they be? (List them).
  3. (If you’re at a loss for ideas), ask a reasonable person who cares about both of you, for their thoughts about other possible more benign meanings.
  4. Are you recycling some old, worn out narratives which applied to any other relationships earlier in your life? (List each next to its corresponding relationship).
  5. Pay attention, and you may avoid talking yourself out of a good relationship!

Goodnight for now,
Susan Lager

Gone Fishing

I’m a very regimented person. I get up at the same time each day, do the morning teeth and face cleanse, make a cup of coffee, balance my accounts, pay some bills, answer my voicemail, check my email, do some dishes, dead-head the garden flowers, make my lunch, do a workout, watch the news, eat the same breakfast, take a shower, get dressed, drive to my office, see some clients, return more voicemails, grab the same lunch, see more clients, answer more voicemails, schmooze with colleagues, drive home, make some calls, change clothes, go for a garden walk, have some dinner with my husband / son, watch more news, do some writing, do some reading, and go to bed. Then it all starts and ends the same way the next day until the weekend when it’s a different, slightly more exotic routine.

I’m also very governed by “shoulds” like, “I should keep appointments”, “I should work out six days a week”, “I should be more patient”, “I should always be learning”, “I should write in my blog”, “I should write another article”, “I should finish my book”, “I should finish my membership site”, “I should finalize my trademark”, I should prepare for my radio show”, “I should get my finances ready for the accountant and Quickbooks”, “I should go to more plays and concerts”, “I should answer my Facebook messages”, “I should volunteer”, “I should go back to Italy”, “I should lose twenty pounds”, “I should be a better friend, sister, mother, and wife”, “I should exfoliate more often”, “I should talk more slowly”, “I should stretch daily”, “I should clean the refrigerator”.  (On and on, and on, and on…..) It’s a wonder I’m not depressed!  It’s also a wonder that for the first time in six months, and after thirteen radio shows I’ve produced and hosted, that I decided to forego the June 29th “Communication Problems” episode, reschedule it to July 13th, and put up a sign saying, “Gone Fishing”!!!!!!!! So if any of this “good girl” routine sounds familiar to you, remember that sometimes, for some of us, goofing off is, (as Martha would say), “a very good thing!”

I should go to bed,
Susan Lager

Over-thinking

Hello Reader,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about over-thinking. People like me, who are a bit perfectionistic and a bit obsessive, are often guilty of it.  In my case, I was set up for it by a family that made a production out of EVERYTHING from the contents of a dinner, to a day at the beach. If we went for an ice cream cone at Carvel, it wasn’t a simple impulsive trip to the place three miles away, but a carefully constructed evening ride up the Taconic Parkway to the Carvel sixty miles north, complete with blankets and car games for the outing. Over-thinking was reframed as creativity, diligence, thoroughness and spirit. Everything we did was elaborately planned, and for the most part we had great fun in the process!

Fast forward to the present. For the last twenty, (yes 20!) years I’ve been thinking about hiring a billing service for my psychotherapy practice. The billing is the least favorite and most incompetent thing I’ve always done, struggling to keep up with the sheer volume of it daily. I’m often apologetic about it to clients, or make jokes about my ineptness in that department. I rarely feel self-doubt about the therapeutic work itself, just the damn billing! I’ve milled over the notion of relinquishing the control, the work involved in transferring the information to a service, the time it would take me, the cost, etc. This is what over-thinking looks like when it’s counterproductive, not artistic! So I’ve finally decided to let go of this last vestige of self-apology, and this exercise in over-thinking– I’m hiring a billing service! And what’s the point of announcing this, you ask? To follow the Nike logo: JUST DO IT!!!!  Before getting caught in a spin of all the “how-to” details, I will follow my own therapeutic advice and take one small step each day, breaking the task down into teeny weeny steps, and NOT think about it!

So if you too have an overactive brain that makes a production out of things, do four things to free yourself from the obsessive spin:

1.  Ask yourself if your over-thinking an issue serves some larger creative, safety, or fun purpose, or not.

2.  If not, decide what a reasonable person would do for action, without further ado.

3.  Break the task or dilemma down into bite-size pieces, day by day, and ignore your thoughts.

4.  Build in time to “review” progress at intervals, not daily– (that leads to more over-thinking.)

Then sit back and enjoy the completion without all the internal “noise”.

Oh, and one more thought…………………………

Goodnight!
Susan Lager

PS. Call toll free 877-497-9046 at 9:30PM on Wednesday, February 9th, to hear my next BlogTalk Radio episode, “Uncover The Truth – Hire A Private Investigator”, with Frank Santin, a Private I. It should be lots of fun!

An Antidote To Poison Thoughts

Hello Reader,

For the third time in a single day, the evil thought insinuates itself in my brain: “Your life will never be easier, never, ever……….”  (Here’s the short version of the context):

– a second disaster at the same ATM in one week resulting in another chewed up deposit
– a kid hurling a rock through my office window in the middle of a session
– my car needs to be registered, now!
– I’m two weeks late mailing my nephews’ birthday presents, I’m a bad aunt…..

Need I say more? So what do I do when the poison self-talk seeps in? (while I’m stuck in a traffic jam on the bridge under construction)?

I roll up the windows and at the top of my lungs shout: POISON WORDS! POISON WORDS! POISON WORDS! And before I can reach the final part of the antidote (challenge the deletions and distortions: Never easier? Easier than what? Ever? Your whole life?), I’m laughing out loud at my own drama. It’s a grade B movie. Get over yourself, Susan.

So what are your poison words?

Wishing you a more pleasant ATM visit,
Susan Lager

PS. Check out my latest published article about forgiveness after an affair at:  http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Susan_Lager

PSS. Also check my poll at the bottom of the blog and enter your answers!

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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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