Tag self

Navigating Discomfort

Life is full of choices. Some choices may take months or years to decide, others are so seemingly inconsequential that we may not even notice ourselves making them. The question is, why do we make the choices that we make? What motivates us to choose this over that from one moment to the next? How can we make sure that our choices serve us, not just for right now, but over the long haul? These are essential questions to answer if we want to cultivate mastery over our lives.

Understanding Threesomes

Relationships are the stuff of life. Quite literally, nothing in the universe exists that isn't in a relationship to a whole bunch of other stuff, not to mention (indirectly) everything else in existence too. Of course, we homo sapiens, when we discuss relationships, we're usually referring to the face-to-face, human-to-human variety, which are by far the most complicated of them all. In this article, I'll explain what makes our interpersonal interactions just so mischievously difficult, and what to do about all those threesomes in which we keep unwittingly finding ourselves.

Being the Shore: The Ins & Outs of Emotional Closeness

People are always changing, flowing through shifting emotional states. As we morph throughout time, one of the things that fluctuates is our desire for emotional--and physical--closeness. This phenomenon can really complicate relationships! Your partner might not want to cuddle or have sex or share a meaningful conversation at the exact moment you do, or vice versa. You might want to feel closer to someone who doesn't want closeness, or want more distance from someone who seeks greater closeness from you. An important question then arises: What's the best way to manage these ever-shifting desires for closeness and distance? Here's what I tell clients.

Top 10 Relationship Myths

Conventional wisdom is great for creating ordinary relationships, but creating extraordinary relationships takes extraordinary means, means that replace conventional thinking with a less conventional, more out-of-the-box approach to connecting. In this article, I quickly debunk the top 10 relationship myths I see most often in couples counseling.

Building Self-Esteem and Confidence

Confidence is one of the biggest predictors of future success. Those who have an abundance of self-confidence radiate conviction and strength; they carry themselves unapologetically, willingly take on new challenges, and face obstacles with determination and optimism, certain that they will triumph against any and all odds. Indeed, those with high self-esteem seem to have a much easier go of things in general, in work, in relationships, in everything. Unfortunately, some people struggle with this important trait, while others have it in spades. As such, I'd like to discuss why this disparity exists and, more importantly, what anyone can do to build their own self-esteem--and reap the rewards of doing so.

Creating a World without Assholes

People can be real jerks. They can be rude, condescending, insulting. They can be greedy, selfish, egotistical. They can be stubborn, narrow-minded, hard-headed, and sometimes just plain mean. You probably know a few people like this, people you avoid as much as possible, those sundry unpleasant sorts you've come to regard as, well, assholes.

Asking for Permission

When we were young, we asked permission quite often. Can I watch another TV show? Can I be excused? Can I spend the night at Bobby's house? Can I borrow the car? When we had parents or caregivers lording over our choices and freedom, asking permission made perfect sense. Since childhood, you've probably been taught that asking permission was the polite, courteous and appropriate thing to do. After all, it seemed a whole lot more considerate--and ultimately less complicated--than sneaking out of the house or stealing the family car without asking. However, if you're reading this article right now, you're likely no longer living with mom and dad, but nonetheless still haven't fully outgrown this pesky habit of asking permission. Maybe you ask your partner for permission to stay out late with your friends. Or maybe you ask your boss permission to take a day off from work. If you have kids, you may even ask them permission to wipe their face clean or put on their shoes. If so, you're bound to have suffered some of the negative consequences that come from asking permission.

That’s Just a Thought: Keeping Things in Perspective

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”. Our internal communication is what constructs our self-image. Communication is what forges relationships. That is why the way we speak to ourselves is so important. Our internal language is always effecting our internal friendship.

Vulnerability and Self-Protection

Most of us want to be close to others, to share deep connections built on trust and love and affection. We want relationships in which we can open our hearts fully, knowing another person will not stomp all over it when we do. We want to be vulnerable, knowing that intimacy requires it, yet we do not want to get hurt. We want two things really, intimacy and safety. Luckily, these goals are not mutually exclusive. We can, indeed, have both, once we answer the question, “How can I protect myself and build intimacy at the same time?” Everyone emotionally protects themselves in some way. We can be guarded, can be tight-lipped about our emotions, can get angry at others when we are actually sad, can get aggressive or defensive, act aloof, condescend, criticize, shout or scream, fight or flee. Since we do not want to get hurt, we protect ourselves.

The Dangers of Saying “I’m Sorry”

Most people believe that an apology is a kind and considerate way to take responsibility for one’s past actions. It is common practice for individuals to seek apologies from those by whom they feel wronged, or to apologize when others feel wronged by them. This stems from the notion that apologies have a certain reparative effect, that they have the power to heal emotional wounds. In actuality, this is true. Apologies do heal. However, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to apologize. Unfortunately, most people apologize in an unhealthy way, a way that, although it may ease some tension within the moment (and therefore seems helpful), actually injures the long-term vitality of the relationship. And this injury far exceeds the benefit. It is like placing a Band-Aid on a scratch, only the Band-Aid is laced with lethal toxins. Since this idea—that an apology can be harmful to relationships—goes mightily against the grain of normal thinking, let me further explain.