This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


A suggestion for meditating

Place yourself in a comfortable position.
Practice to let go.   Your worries.   Your fears.   Empty your mind. 
  Practice to be still.
from Hatha Yoga meditation led by Sally Wang

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Inner Resource

 You, at your best
 "...finding the areas of emotional health to improve, access, or develop, I focus on helping the individual to connect to a time or times when they felt healthy emotionally... Even those clients who have had horrific pasts have had moments when they felt good, strong, resilient, happy, safe, etc. Accessing those moments so that they are able to own what they felt, did, had, etc in order to feel good about themselves or their lives gives them a sense of empowerment. All too often when people feel sad, depressed, angry, hopeless , helpless, etc. it stems from not knowing how to access any other feelings...Not because we have to be happy or "up" all the time, but because we all want to know that, just as good times may be fleeting, bad times are also transient as well, and in accessing our feelings of empowerment they can learn to trust in their abilities to cope with the "not so good" feelings and moments in healthy and yes, hopeful ways... In short, to add to the list, I'd put in 1. empowerment, in one's ability to cope"  Loren Gelberg-Goff

Here we have  self-esteem expert, Ms Gelberg-Goff making a very useful point.  All of us go through difficult periods in our lives, have problems and are faced with challenges.  We sometimes do a pretty good job of working through these trials.  Those memories are put to good use when we sort through them for our effective coping abilities.  What were they?  Make a list.  Thus, we can learn from our own past, our own prior experiences and how we used our own creative powers of finding a solution.  If you can identify some of these, not only will it help you to be satisfied and proud of yourself but, also, will give you back those resources for current or future problems.

Her main point though is, I think, that  we can remember ourselves when we were in excellent condition and use that to nourish our self-esteem.  I will add that we can put reminiscing  into a practical exercise:  Remember a time in your life when you felt really centered, energetic, hopeful, engaged, and alive!  What were you doing?  What were the circumstances in your life at that time?  What was different then from  now?  When you can actually delineate the personal qualities you had in gear, what you were doing, and what was happening around you, you have the material to duplicate at least some of that in current time.  
At any point in time, we are our own living repertoire. 
We are the sum of all that we have ever been.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Exercise to Lift Your Mood

"...mens sana in corpore sano---a healthy mind goes with a healthy body."

"...physical activity is good for your can improve mood, reduce anxiety and produce a sense of well-being.  "...evidence has been accumulating that exercise can help relieve and possibly even prevent depression.
     Physical effects are easier to measure than emotions, so this is a difficult subject to study.  There have been few...large-scale, controlled studies, but research shows fairy consistently that exercise can improve mood and help reduce depression...
     Why would exercise affect your emotional state?  It can boost various nervous system chemicals---notably dopamine, norepinephrine,and serotonin---that influence mood.  Even...the slight rise in body temperature caused by exercise might have a calming and pleasurable effect, as can the rhythms of the activity.
     Psychology also comes into play.  Any type of exercise can provide a sense of control and accomplishment.  It can serve as a distraction or time-out from daily anxieties and concerns.
     If you are one of the millions suffering from depression, you probably know that there are a variety of approaches to treatment and you may have to try several."  Exercise "...cannot replace therapy and/or medication, however, especially if you are severely depressed.  Keep in mind:
     vPick an activity that gets you out...and into the company of others.  Depressed people tend to isolate themselves, and isolation contributes to depression.
     vAny exercise appears to help, but it has to suit you and you have to do it regularly."
  •    jogging
  •   weight lifting
  •   walking
  •   swimming
  •   running 
  •   hiking
  •   playing a sport
  •   dancing
  •   martial arts
  •   aerobics
There's a few suggestions.  Do you feel inclined toward any of these?  If not, think of what you might like.  If it is fun or interesting to you, you are more likely to stick with it.  As children, most of us are active naturally; what do you remember that you liked to do as a child?
     "I can't promise that exercise will lift your mood, let alone cure depression...they're still good for your body and brain in so many ...ways."  It definitely makes sense to include exercise as a component of a mood-supporting program.  I have exercised most of my life and it always makes me feel good.  Sometimes I don't want to do it but, there's where a little self-discipline comes in; I do it anyway.  And I am always glad afterwards!
     Quotes are from an article by J. Swartzberg, M.D. titled Sound Body, sound mind in the WellnessLetter, August 2011
For more specific info on exercise with recommendations: 
To read more about the following additional benefits of exercising:
"better sleep, blow off steam, improve sex life, boost energy, lower blood pressure without medication, help children avoid obesity", go to

 Have you noticed your mood lift when you exercise?  Share your experience here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Come?

My turn to pose a question.

 Today one of my dear patients, in a full and far-reaching session, which began with the inner demons that haunt her, went back to the punitive nuns with their painful rulers, and ended with her realizing that she wants to do volunteer work, mentioned her (92 year old) mother-in law.*  I already knew about this as it's a regular part of her life.  She takes her every week to Bingo (and stays with her there), sometimes she takes her out to eat, occasionally she drives her to the beauty salon (again, patiently stays through the entire 'perm' process), and brings her home for family dinner some Sundays.

She loves her mother-in-law; they love each other.  And I think they are friends, in a way.  But what Nancy does for her is generous and kind.  She says it isn't hard for her, that it's part of her nature.  She knows how to look for her mother-in-law's hints (mom won't ask directly to go to a restaurant), how to help her with changing seats at the beauty salon, etc.  She observes her charge and responds accordingly.  Recognizing that to do this for her relative is not a chore but something that she does naturally is what led to her self-discovery that she enjoys helping others and to the idea of looking into doing volunteer work.

As we discussed this, we touched upon the reaction of others to her when she is out and about with her mother-in-law, an obviously elderly, somewhat frail, person whom she is assisting.  I also had noticed things about others when I used to be out with  my Dad or Mom when they were older. 
Usually, people were understanding, tried to help us, if needed, and were friendly.  I always had the impression that they felt happy to see an older person being patiently accompanied and assisted.
I know that this is how I feel when I see it.  In fact, the other day, I had to wait overly long in a grocery store line because the customer ahead of me was elderly and had some slowness in his ability to process the business with the checker.  The checker was so nicely helpful.  But, then she apologized to me for the wait.  I said that the apology wasn't necessary, that I was glad to see someone helping an older person so gently and respectfully.

So, my question is, why, if we naturally---many of us anyway--- have this response to seeing a senior receiving good and appropriate attention, do we have so much trouble (in this country), finding a way to care for our elders in a kind, loving way that keeps them involved with the world instead of sequestered away from everyone else?

*I included that brief overview of a session for those of you who are curious or interested in how therapy goes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From A Friend

I learned from a friend of mine, by her example, how much pleasure can so easily be given by telling others that you appreciate them.

"Getting used to our blessings is one of the most important nonevil generators of human evil, tragedy and suffering."
Abraham Maslow

"Silent gratitude isn't very much to anyone."
Gertrude Stein

Friday, July 8, 2011

One Door Closes, Another Opens

The ending of therapy

"Writing a Good-Bye Letter to Your Therapist"

When I saw this phrase in the search words, it struck me as sad.  I felt sad when I read it.  But then I re-thought and realized it could mean a lot of things.  It could be a good thing:  Possibly it is that an individual has completed their therapy, reflected on what occurred there and wants to convey that to the therapist.  The other, unfortunate possibility might be that someone is terminating their therapy this way.

Ideally, the conclusion of therapy happens by mutual agreement and when the client feels resolved.  The therapist will begin noticing repeated sessions full of good reports from the client  and when the inevitable vicissitudes of life do appear, the client is matter-of-fact about them.  The client feels that they are at a kind of a resting place in their own process.  Or, conversely, they are confident, now that therapy has helped them over a hump too challenging to go through alone, that they will carry on in their growth process independently.
Ideally, this will all have been talked through between the client and the therapist.  One reason that this is important is that sometimes new work appears at this juncture; most commonly the patient realizes that past good-byes are re-emerging.  Some good-byes (maybe most) are not said well.  So many of us have so much trouble with this that we go to great lengths to avoid even recognizing, much less experiencing, a parting of ways.  One very common manner of avoidance is to initiate an argument because good-byes are so difficult that it is easier to part by stomping off in anger.  A good-bye like that can haunt a person for the rest of their life. 

Sometimes good-byes aren't planned; something changes unexpectedly and one finds themselves gone or, left.  Sometimes good-byes happen because one of the people in the relationship dies.  There may be a chance to say good-bye, in that case, or, there may not.  These losses may re-surface as the patient begins saying good-bye to their therapist and they may then decide that the opportunity for integrating those hurts has presented itself.
Ideally, the end of therapy can take as long as the patient needs.  It can cover a review of the presenting problem, the topics explored in the therapy process, the feelings in the relationship with the therapist, any unfinished business, and an outline of what the client will be working on themselves, in their own growth process, after the therapy ends.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen this way.  Sometimes something goes awry in the relationship but instead of discussing it with the therapist and thereby having the chance to resolve it, the client just quits.  Sometimes people stop because they feel very satisfied with what has gone on for them in therapy but don't feel that it is a real relationship, so, again, they stop abruptly.  This will sometimes happen with only a phone message.  Some therapists will call back and suggest at least saying good-bye in person.  But, most won't as therapists are not in the business of telling people what to do, nor of pursuing patients.  As the patient, it's your call. 
Terminating therapy without some sense of closure may just add another torn apart piece to the material of the patient's life.  I would encourage those of you who have reached the wonderful point of feeling you had a successful therapy experience and are ready to forgo your sessions, that you take full opportunity of the chance to say a conscious good-bye!  And then, celebrate---a good job, well done.

What are your thoughts about good-byes in therapy or otherwise?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Out of The Question!

How seeking the answer can lead to previously unimagined inquiries.

 "I think now that the great thing is not so much the formulation of an answer for myself, (for the theater, or the play-) but rather the most accurate possible statement of the problem."  Arthur Miller

This quote could be a description of psychotherapy.  However, the back and forth dialog of the therapy relationship and the internal observation of the patient, continuously define, re-define, and move forward toward that "...most accurate possible statement of the problem."  So, as I have mentioned before, I remind you again that therapy is a process; therapy is not a 'quick fix'.  The effort can lead to insights.  But, there are no instant answers in therapy. 

However, on the way to the accurate statement of the problem, other things are happening.  Today, one of my patients, relatively new,- I've seen her for a few months now, said, as she left, "I am learning so much about myself-more than I ever knew before."  The patient is experiencing the benefits of a healing relationship, learning new skills---for example, how to self-observe or the value of having both your thoughts and feeling in gear at once, the relief of being truly listened to, and heard, and more.  This particular patient has been able to make a partial shift in her outer life as a result of her progress in therapy but she is far from a resolution to her presenting problem.  And, yet, as you can see, she is a real life example of the value of being in a personal growth process, in and of itself.
Sometimes another thing happens:  While being engaged in formulating the problem, the problem itself evolves.  As the patient grows, what is a problem to her may change.  Or, possibly a more essential level of the problem will emerge.  

Some people, once having been introduced to a personal growth process, find it is something they want to continue throughout life.  A formal growth process (and I believe that there are others besides psychotherapy) does not have to be constantly engaged.  Many people find, after their initial experience with therapy, that they want to employ it as a resource, to make use of, as needed.

Self-actualization (term coined by Abraham Maslow) can be an exciting, compelling life quest.

Please comment.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Helpful Hint

For your convenience
Just click on one of the labels in the Labels list--- on the right, below About Me,--- and you will instantly access all of the posts on that topic.

Friday, July 1, 2011


About your intention.

Sit with a straight spine.  Open your chest; open your heart.  Close your eyes for a few minutes.  Observe.  Observe your body; observe your mind.  Set your intention.  It doesn't have to be perfect; you don't have to be perfect, nor do it perfectly.  Just stay with the intention.  Stay in the intention.  Slow and deepen your breathing.  And then, open your eyes with a smile.
Ideas for this meditation culled from Kundalini and Hatha Yoga classes.

Look at the flowers.  Is the perfect one better than the imperfect one?  I don't think so, myself.  But they do both show their intention!