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Tag: emotion

Core Long-Term Marriage Skills

Core Long-Term Marriage Skills

One of my couple clients asked me to create a summary of our work together. I know these skills apply to nearly every long-term marriage, so I share them here. 1. Assume positive intent from your spouse. Trust him/her. Build positive interactions. Look for the good. Notice it, appreciate it. Stop trying to control the outcome of every interaction so that you feel less vulnerable. Protect yourself less, be open to one another more. 2. Self-focus: always pay more attention to…

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Do People Ever Really Change?

Do People Ever Really Change?

The final episode of the season of AMC’s Mad Men has aired, and many of us who have watched the series have spent some time in reflection on its many observations about human behavior. The main character Don Draper, a premier ad man in New York City during the 1960’s, is such a deeply flawed character, it was often painful for me to watch. But with such wonderful writing, I was compelled to watch hour after hour, as I would read a…

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When Empathy Goes Awry : Mirror Touch Synesthesia

When Empathy Goes Awry : Mirror Touch Synesthesia

How do we come to understand another person’s emotions? Within our brain are a cluster of nerve cells that scientists call “mirror neurons.” These cells and circuits turn on and develop when, as infants and toddlers, our primary caregivers express on their own faces what they sense in us. We are wailing because we are in pain? A caring parent has some of that same suffering in their facial expressions. We laugh and smile when we begin to recognize our…

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What Every Wife Ought to Know about Marriage Conflict

What Every Wife Ought to Know about Marriage Conflict

If I had the opportunity to share one essential marital tool with every wife in America, I know exactly what I would say: Learn to bring up difficult topics with your partner in a calm, quiet and focused voice. Marital researcher Dr. John Gottman has studied tens of thousands of marital conversations over 30 + years. He has found that there are 4 distinct communication habits that are poison to happy relationships. He calls them the “Four Horsemen,” like the…

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Men Have Emotions, Too

Men Have Emotions, Too

“Men seem to have a mental file drawer where they can store unpleasant experience. Open it up, drop it in, slam it shut. Done.” One of my friends was talking about her own experience in her marriage, and wondered if I agreed. Well, it’s complicated. I do think that in western culture, men are expected to be problem solvers: movers, shakers, thinkers. This is what it takes to succeed in a market economy, where competition for work and other resources…

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I Need Help NOW

I Need Help NOW

Several of my clients are suffering with destructive moods, relationships, jobs or unemployment at the moment.I understand what that vortex feels like: overwhelming physical tension, unclear thinking, rushed or confused decision making, hair-trigger temper, uneasy sleep. During times like this in life, it’s very hard to trust that you can find a way to hang on. The present is so unpleasant it seems endless. When times like this come to us (and believe me, they will come to us all,…

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What’s So Bad About Excellence?

What’s So Bad About Excellence?

I had another conversation with my professional mentor last week, and she said something about me and my good friend, K, as we finished the conversation: … “it’s because you (both) over-function.” Now, if you have been part of my training in psychotherapy, you would know that over-functioning is not a great thing. It’s not even a good thing. It implies that I regularly do more in my relationships than is necessary or even helpful. I felt the power of…

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Asking Permission

Asking Permission

One of the most irksome things I’ve heard people say in conversation lately is this little quip: “After all, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” What this says to me is that most people are so convinced of the entrenchment of power in their various workplaces, families and organizations that they would rather move ahead on their own initiative, knowing they will have to repent and grovel for a moment or two when confronted instead of go through the…

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Empathy First

Empathy First

I recently had a conversation with a mentor, in which I was the subject. Sharing as I was, I was surprised to find myself feeling increasingly confused and annoyed. I kept talking, and continued to listen to the detailed feedback, but I felt increasingly alone, misunderstood and distressed. Why? Because the first thing I needed, and expected, I think, was some empathy. It wasn’t therapy, but it was still very personal conversation. I expected more support and companionable sensitivity. Emotional…

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Fear and What’s Possible

Fear and What’s Possible

Today is 9/11. The bells toll, and the wars continue. In an email from our school district, we have been informed that the H1N1 virus is up and running. Several children have tested positive, and we are all encouraged to be alert and aware. NPR reported this morning that a single vaccination (instead of two) may be all that is needed to immunize adults, allowing more vaccinations to go to more people this fall. In listening to the media coverage…

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