approaching therapy

musings as they come, and as they evolve …

don’t be nice – be real

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That’s the title of a book by Kelly Bryson. I really do admire his work and perspective.

And then I read this quote in Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, by Richard Bach. New York: Dell Publishing, 1977, p. 59:

Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.

But I like to question things.
So I ask, “really?”

Is that true for you?
If you can’t speak your truth, would you rather be dead?
Live free or die?

For you, are there some needs which may be more important than authenticity?
How about safety? A roof over your head?
Would you choose to hold your tongue in exchange for what scraps you do get in your relationship with your partner?

It’s easy for therapists to exhort people to “be authentic” and to suggest to them that they aren’t responsible for someone else’s reactions.

But just b/c you aren’t responsible for someone else’s experience doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with that other person’s reactions. It’s what my teacher Judye Hesse calls the game of “truth AND consequences.”

What if you tell your partner that you love him and then he withdraws because he’s afraid to allow himself to receive love for fear that if he allows himself to receive, then he’ll also allow the possibility of loss, and now he’s admitted vulnerability, and that’s not a position he wants to put himself in. Or what if he yells at you back and tells you to stop taking care of him, and gives you the icy shoulder for three days?

Or what if you tell your partner you are disappointed that you didn’t get to spend some time with him this weekend and he just turns it back on you and gets on your case for the time you went out with a friend of yours two months ago, and he won’t stop yelling at you until he’s had the last word. Is it worth it to say anything?

Would you stay in this relationship? Would you rather be alone?

Sure, you can take responsibility for your own experience — you can try and manage what comes up in you in the face of your partner’s reactive display and soothe yourself. But how much tension and coldness can you stand?
And sure, you can always heed Jim Morrison’s advice and just “walk out of town.”

Written by David

October 11th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

fortune cookie

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Today I cracked open the cookie and read these words:

A good laugh and a good cry
both cleanse the mind

The back says: “LEARN CHINESE – ” and the word is:

Today

and the Chinese characters follow underneath.

So there you have it, the answer to my pondering about whether to indulge the cry, or to just deal with it.
I was thinking that life calls for a little of both.
Cry, and then wipe your eyes so you can see reality, and move forward from there.
It’s a version of Leonard Jacobson’s teachings about presence.

Written by David

July 29th, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Posted in truth

compatibility

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How do you know?
To stay together or not?
Based on what?
What if it’s good some of the time and not good some of the time?
How do you weigh these things?
What if you butt heads?
Or argue?
What if you are crazy about each other but can’t do anything together because you have control battles?
What does it matter?
How do you know?

Written by David

July 1st, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Posted in couples

what did i do wrong now?

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If the partner is unhappy, that’s just what most men will think.
A natural conclusion.

Written by David

May 29th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Posted in couples

gripe fest

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We don’t have any problems — except when we try and talk about things.

Reminds me of that phenomenon that Werner Herzog talks about* – about shining neon lights into every corner of a room. And what happens? It becomes uninhabitable.
Sometimes I think he may be right. When you focus on the negative, that’s what your experience will be.

For some couples, things will go along fine until the topic happens to be brought up. Then the argument starts.

So I asked some other couples about whether shining the light on so-called problems helped or just made them feel miserable.

One couple said, “We can air out stuff that’s bugging us. It’s a safe way to open up to each other and we know it’s not gonna get into a screaming match.”
Another couple said, “I like that it’s not a gripe fest.”

I’m not doing anything differently, but some couples want to blame and argue and some couples find they can talk.

*Interview with Terry Gross, Fresh Air from WHYY, Oct. 27, 1998

Written by David

May 20th, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Posted in couples

rolling stones

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No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need
– Rolling Stones, 1969 album Let It Bleed. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

When I hear people who are distressed because they aren’t getting what they want, I think of Viktor Frankl. How would it be if you were in a situation where it was clear that you weren’t going to get what you wanted? And if it was clear that you might not get your needs met as fully as you would like? Would it be easier to step out of that illusion of thinking others should somehow be different than how they actually are? And step out of the paradigm of blaming and power struggles?

Viktor Frankl survived living in a concentration camp. His book is aptly titled From Death-Camp to Existentialism. He survived. How about you. Will you survive or at least get by if your needs aren’t met? What would you live for? What would keep you going? Hope is what helped Frankl, even if it turned out there was nothing at the end of the road.

I also return to some words I overheard a Czech restaurateur named Vladimir say to some elderly patrons. They had driven all the way from Santa Rosa to Inverness, CA. The roast duck is always on the menu, but that night – I think it was a Sunday night – it was not available. The man was obviously angry as evidenced by the tautness and redness in his face. To which Vladimir responded with this inculcation: You can’t alvays get vat you vant all of zee time.

Written by David

April 10th, 2010 at 8:47 am

positivity

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Been a little heavy on the negatives.
So, how about some positive encouragements:

  • Give.
  • Listen.
  • Stretch.

But only if you want to.

Written by David

April 1st, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Posted in couples

i feel hurt

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i feel hurt

i get that you feel hurt

i feel hurt

i get that you feel hurt

I FEEL HURT!!!!

i get that you feel hurt

Written by David

March 29th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Posted in couples

what’s the feeling behind the question

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That’s what Judye Hesse, one of my teachers at CIIS, used to say. And she attributes it to Will Schutz and the T-group people.

Be wary of the tendency to ask questions.
Such as:

Why are you being such a jerk ?!

It’s a cover for saying what’s really going on.

Sure, you can communicate however you want.
It’s easier to make it seem like someone else is the problem than to admit we feel hurt.
People will get the point either way; it’s just doesn’t foster compassion.

Instead of saying: What’s your problem?

Imagine saying instead, Hey, I didn’t like how I heard what you said. Are you open to hearing me share my feelings and making a request? OK, so, when you made that comment, I felt upset. Now knock it off, will ya?

If you want to annoy your partner, the next time they make of those “question” remarks, you can be a smarty pants and say back to them in a taunting voice, what’s the feeling behind the question?
Or, you can try to see that they are just upset, and you can respond with an empathic statement instead. Your choice.

Written by David

March 29th, 2010 at 9:51 am

Posted in couples

i feel like…

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Feelings versus Thoughts

I feel like …
I feel that …
I feel as if …
I feel like you are ….

How do you feel when you have that thought ?

Written by David

March 29th, 2010 at 9:21 am

Posted in couples,individuals