approaching therapy

musings as they come, and as they evolve …

Archive for the ‘compelling behaviors’ Category

our actions reflect our values ??

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Is it really true that our actions reflect our values?  It turns out that it is not always true. 

When you aren’t fire-walking or otherwise acting in alignment with your highest self, it could be the case that our actions reflect any of the following:

  • our fears
  • other limiting beliefs, negative cognitions, doubts, guilt
  • lack of imagination, black and white thinking
  • habit
  • stuckness
  • inertia
  • laziness
  • stubbornness, ego! The natural knee-jerk defiance in the face of a request. The needs of independence, autonomy, choice, free will, freedom.
  • attachments – to things, to places
  • attachment to a sense of identity – who would I be if I changed? If I did something else or moved somewhere else – who would I be? Avoiding the existential anxiety of that experience. Again, ego!
  • the effects of a bad night’s sleep

So when someone says they love you but they want to spend their evening attending to organizing their rock collection, I hope that keeping in mind these other possible meanings for people’s actions helps you take it less personally. 

And instead of struggling around the push-pull of our desires with another person, isn’t the idea for all of us just to have caring for ourselves and each other around our experiences? 


Written by David

December 4th, 2014 at 12:29 am

strange ways we change

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When will you stop doing something, whether it is arguing with someone, getting down on yourself, or drinking?

When you don’t want to any more.
When you have had enough.
When you are bored.
When other things hold your interest more, when there are more compelling things.

I heard that some people stop drinking alcohol, when alcohol has had enough of them.


Written by David

November 13th, 2014 at 11:16 pm


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Interesting notion: Those who can’t control themselves, try and control those around them.
Something David Schnarch writes about, as does Ellyn Bader.
I guess it would make things easier.
Let’s say your partner is saying something to you, and you are hearing it critically. Like they are blaming YOU.
Wouldn’t it be better if they could just shut up and stop attacking you?
Wouldn’t it feel better if they could admit their part in it?
So much easier than trying to keep your calm, trying to not take anything personally, or honestly trying to look at your part, and trying to keep an open and curious mind and simply say, “will you tell me more about how that is for you?!”

Or lets say you feel anxious because your partner is out as some bar with his or friends, drunk and dancing naked on the tables.
Wouldn’t it be easier on the worries if they had a ball and chain and reported back to you with reassuring words every 15 minutes?

We all need to have a certain sense of control. Even if it’s an illusion. One of those basic human needs.

But one thing I have found is there’s something to the notion of self-control. That’s the one thing that I see start to change when couples start counseling. They really see they don’t want to continue the stupid arguing.

But I’ve also seen something else. Some people who have a hard time allowing the partner to be who he or she is, and who can’t manage their reactivity, sometimes also can’t manage their impulse to drink alcohol. So how much of healthy relationships (whether relationships to people or to drugs) is about impulse control? I know that ultimately, spirits of alcohol is also a spiritual problem. But is it an impulse control problem as well? is impulse control an issue in of itself, or does it in fact relate to some other “issue” so to speak. And if the problem informs the path of health we take, what’s the best way to address all of this stuff?


Written by David

July 22nd, 2013 at 7:43 pm

the clink of the ice

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that clink of the ice in the glass
that’s enough of a trigger for some people
to be on alert
when they are in a home with a person with an alcohol habit
to duck and cover

we can distinguish drugs from someone’s relationship with the drug
Addiction? Dependence? Abuse? What do these things really mean?
what’s the different between cannabis, prozac, and a banana nut muffin?
we can look at what underlying needs are met and have understanding and empathy
we can see if a problem is only a problem if it’s a problem
what’s it to you?
we can see if the problem is just in our head

but when there’s history of problems with drug use, past trauma, family stuff, relationship stuff, it resonates deeper
i think of it like a hall of mirrors, that cube of ice clattering down all the past halls, and the present becomes more, it becomes all of the past experiences, resonating like some harmonic instrument.
It’s a deep trigger.

you can do emdr and maybe it will free you from the trigger

how much “work” do you want to do?
Do you just manage your thoughts and feelings?
Do you find other ways to get needs met?
Do you live happily with unmet needs?

maybe you don’t want to get over it

maybe you just don’t want to be around someone who is high


Written by David

December 7th, 2012 at 12:31 pm


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I have attended some meditation retreats where you sit for a bunch of days and try and observe sensations that arise in your body. It can be hard on a Westerner’s knees. You’re supposed to try and observe without reacting. In fact, sometimes you are exhorted to commit to not uncrossing your legs or opening your eyes for an hour straight. These retreats are silent, ‘cept for noontime opportunities to ask questions of the person or couple who happen to be acting as the teacher.

My question to them was always the same: How am I supposed to not react?

I have been to retreats in California and in Nepal and I got the same answer to my question. They all say the same thing: “Keep trying.”


Written by David

February 17th, 2010 at 10:10 pm