We get dropped off at the curb at LAX in the morning, a few days after Christmas, the four of us, myself, my wife, two toddlers, three bags we want to check, four carry-ons, and a large, collapsible wagon we use to schlep our gear around whenever we attempt to navigate the serpentine marathon that is airline travel with a family of four. Our plane boards in a little over an hour. Odds of making it? To be determined. Read more
The human mind can be easily deceived sometimes. In its perennial effort to accurately interpret our world, it is unfortunately prone to making some serious mistakes. This is exceedingly evident in the case of optical illusions, were the mind is tricked into believing something is true that, in fact, is false. The image above, for instance, is completely static and unmoving, made by colors and patterns fixed in space. Is this what you see?
I’ve been feeling a bit like a restaurant lately, which is an uncomfortable thing to admit. I’m not used to comparing myself to buildings, much less ones that serve food, especially considering that I am a notoriously poor cook. Nonetheless, it dawned on me recently just how perfect this metaphor is to describe a phenomenon that I believe is fairly common among people in general, not just me. In fact, I bet you’ve felt like a restaurant plenty of times before; you just didn’t describe it in these terms.
Manipulation gets a bad rap. In The Two Truths About Love: The Art & Wisdom of Extraordinary Relationships, as well as in my counseling sessions with clients, I explain how each and every one of us has 99% control of every relationship. Upon occasion, a client will remark, “Oh, but I don’t want to be thought of as controlling.” What a travesty! Such a person has yet to awaken to the limitless rewards that come from being manipulative. My goal, as a therapist, is to help people realize the essential role that skillful manipulation plays in our pursuit of success and happiness.
All we do is fight—Our communication skills stink—We’ve stopped thinking about us—We can’t seem to get along—We don’t agree about anything—We’re just mean to each other—We’ve grown apart—We’re at an impasse—We need help.
I hear pronouncements like these frequently when couples first come to see me for counseling. Since both individuals are experiencing the same (or similar) strains in the relationship, it is natural for couples to perceive the “problem” as something that is “ours”, a “we-issue”. Whenever I hear partners speak of their relationship in this way—in terms of we—I learn precisely where to first direct my attention: on helping each person begin to think less in terms of “we” and more in terms of “me”. If this sounds selfish, callous or somehow unromantic, please let me explain.
Our internal friendship is a reflection of our self-image, the opinion we have about ourselves. If we do not like someone, we are not likely to have a very close relationship with them. Why would we want to? Similarly, if we do not like ourselves, we are not likely to have a strong and vibrant internal friendship. “How we think about ourselves” (our self-image) is really no different from “how we speak to ourselves”.