approaching therapy

musings as they come, and as they evolve …

meditation is as bad as smoking

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You’ve heard the news concerning our health:

Sitting is the new Smoking.

The humor is not lost on me.

And since meditation, as most people know it, consists of sitting ….

Written by David

November 10th, 2017 at 2:17 am

two words

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I attended some meetings in the Bay Area with a spiritual teacher in the early part of the century.

Sometimes he said that God gave us two words to use:

Fuck You

On occasion, I can see their appropriateness.

I like the idea of “two words.”

These are good ones:

“Thank You,”
“I Love You,”
“I’m Sorry”

It reminds me of the Hawaiian practice of reconciliation called Ho’oponopono.
I believe the sequence is as follows: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”
I’m not sure about “Forgive Me,” since we are hanging out in the field beyond right-doing and wrong-doing that Rumi references, right? But it goes with “I’m Sorry”, and I like the spirit of the question, and the way it involves the other in the form of a request. But I think the whole thing is meant as an internal process that doesn’t have to involve the other person. You work your transformation.

Written by David

September 1st, 2017 at 9:03 am

Posted in individuals

attachment vs differentiation

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Couples work is very hard.  That’s why I am fond of that quote, supposedly attributed to a Buddhist Monk: 

“The hardest thing is another person.”

There are several kinds of couples therapy.

One kind helps couples create safety together.  That’s called attachment-focused work.

Another kind helps couples stand on their own two feet, so you aren’t dependent on someone seeing you, validating you, hearing you, agreeing with you, etc.  That’s called differentiation work.

At its worse, I think the therapy that fosters attachment keeps people dependent on each other, and it doesn’t work because when people need comfort the most, it’s when there is triggering going on.  And in those times, because each person is knee deep in his or her own stuff, you can’t depend on the other person to help.  The only thing you have a choice in is how you might respond to the other person.

And at its worse, I think therapy that focuses on differentiation denies what it is to be fundamentally human – that we do care what others think of us (as humans, our sense of self derives FROM others, whether it’s measured by what people say to us or how they view our accomplishments), and that people can help each other by being kind to each other.  Perhaps by holding an empathic or compassionate space long enough for the partners to get back on their own two feet.

Here’s an article on attachment-focused work:

Here’s an article on differentiation:

I like the model that is held by John Welwood, which offers the best integration of the different sides.  And ultimately, I like to keep in mind a model written about in the book Undefended Love.

Written by David

September 1st, 2017 at 8:47 am

Posted in couples

be nice

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Am i missing something?

Be nice
and have fun. Have a good time together.

Is there something preventing people from doing that with each other?

Written by David

August 6th, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Posted in couples

laughing out loud

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Reading David Sedaris.

I realized that I was laughing out loud.
and then I remembered.
This happens every time I read Sedaris.
The last time was years ago, as I don’t allow myself often the pleasure of reading anything other than non-fiction.
Imagine that, this crazy involuntary physical reaction, like sneezing or vomiting. laughing out loud.
It’s so therapeutic.
This time is was Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.
Before, it was Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.
And before that, it was Naked.

Written by David

July 31st, 2017 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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Written by David

May 25th, 2017 at 12:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Alain de Botton

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Loved Krista Tippett’s interview with Alain de Botton.


Choice excerpts, relating to themes of expectations, and the reality of how challenging it is for people (crazy as we all are, in our own ways) to get along:

. . . . .

My view of what one should talk about on a first date is not showing off and not putting forward one’s accomplishments, but almost quite the opposite. One should say, “Well, how are you crazy? I’m crazy like this.”

. . . . .

If we start by accepting that of course we’re only just holding it together, and in many ways, really quite challenging people — I think if somebody thinks that they’re easy to live with, they’re by definition going to be pretty hard and don’t have much of an understanding of themselves. I think there’s a certain wisdom that begins by knowing that of course you, like everyone else, is pretty difficult. And this knowledge is very shielded from us. Our parents don’t tell us, our ex-lovers — they knew it, but they couldn’t be bothered to tell us.

. . . . .

I think getting into a relationship with someone, asking someone to be with you is a pretty cruel thing to do to someone that you love and admire and respect because the job is so hard. Most people fail at it.

. . . . .

I think one of the nicest things you can do to someone you really admire is leave them alone. Just let them go. Let them be. Don’t impose yourself on them because you’re challenging.

. . . . .

“Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.”

Written by David

May 11th, 2017 at 10:54 pm

Posted in couples

less traveled

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Just re-read M. Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Traveled.

Written in 1978.
I read it in 1984.
It blew my mind at the time. Was somehow relevant to my first long-term relationship. Explained things.

Wanted to see what I would “see” upon a second read, 33 years later, with all the couples therapy perspectives I currently hold.

The first time, I remember reading something about the culprit of expectations.
I was surprised this second round to read so much encouragement of differentiation and blasting of forms of dependency.

Scott goes so far as to call a person who says, “I can’t live without you” a parasite.

He goes on to suggest that “you would be better off being dependent on heroin.”

Finally, this made an impression on me that I’ll never forget:
Love is defined as loving someone when you don’t feel like loving him or her.


Written by David

May 11th, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Posted in couples

in spite of – redux

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I keep coming back to this…
Loving people IN SPITE OF who they are.

I so much appreciate people telling it like it is, shining light on the ordinary, saying what everyone knows, but for some reason, no one has spoken up and said it. With intelligence and humor.

People are ridiculous.
Don’t pretend to try to love people as they are.
Instead, love them in spite of who they are.

I Know What You Think of Me
June 15, 2013


Written by David

May 11th, 2017 at 11:31 am

Posted in couples


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A nice blog post from Figs (Fiachra O’Sullivan) in SF:

I just love how down to earth this guy is. Love his use of language.
Love his simple guidelines for folks.

He has three steps to help people come to their senses:

1. Notice your reactivity ASAP
2. Become curious about what’s happening inside you
3. Share it the moment you’re able

But I would add a couple other steps in there:

1a. Breathe; take some deep breaths
1b. Feel your feelings

I like how the focus is on yourself and how you can share about yourself, and what your experience says about you. It’s a different sort of consciousness. It’s about sharing rather than struggling.

Written by David

December 4th, 2016 at 11:46 pm

Posted in couples