Archives for Relationships
Assertiveness is often misunderstood. People might think it means being confrontational or strident; they might assume it's about having to sound powerful. In truth, assertiveness comes in many different styles, and sometimes involves vulnerability. At its core, it's about expressing yourself--your feelings, your perspective, your beliefs--in a respectful way that allows you to be truly heard. Maybe you used to speak up but after encountering resistant, you've stopped. Or maybe you speak up in some situations (like at work) and not others (with your parents, or with your partner.) Here are some suggestions for finding your voice.
I just finished the fantastic book "Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life" by Emily Nagoski. What was most striking about it for me wasn't the science (though Nagoski does a great job at laying that out, along with the misconceptions, inaccuracies, and propaganda we've all been fed for too long.) No, what was most striking was the frequent refrain/reassurance that we're all normal--in terms of our body parts, our desires, our arousal, our orgasms. You name it: it's variable from person to person. And the number one enemy, what's really keeping you from having the sex life you want, is preconceptions about what's normal, or right, or what everyone else is doing, or what we're all supposed to be doing and feeling. The question, "Am I normal?", does us all a disservice. But the answer, every time is yes. Here are some ideas of how to get the sex life you want, and to want the sex life you have.
It's very hard to leave a narcissist once you love them. I get that. So the point of this post is to set you free before that point. Have you ever heard that expression, "Love means never having to say you're sorry"? Well, it's utter b.s. The reason is that people who love each other do hurt each other on occasion. It's unavoidable. And it's forgivable, with appropriate remorse, contrition, and a vow to try not to do the same in the future. That, in a nutshell, is an apology. And if your partner doesn't know how to give one (like a certain Presidential candidate you might have heard of), THAT is your sign to run.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and this week I had the pleasure of attending Rosh Hashanah services and hearing a sermon on the value of listening. As a therapist, I listen for a living. But in my personal life, sometimes I can be a little lax. I imagine that's true for all of us: We can get used to thinking we know how our partners feel, and we don't actually check it out. Here's why that's a mistake, and how to correct it.
One of the biggest problems with bad therapists is that you often fail to recognize their professional ineptitude. Instead, you wind up thinking it's you, your partner, or your relationship. So here are some ways to tell when it's not you; it's your therapist.
When your child is having trouble, it might make you feel like you need to just sit back and let the experts take over. You need to listen to everything they tell you at the school, and take all the advice from therapists. Maybe you feel like your child's issues are somehow your fault, and that you just have to turn over your power to other people. Remember, your child needs you now more than ever. So it's important to empower yourself. You are your child's best observer and greatest advocate.
As a therapist, I see a lot of couples who are working on their relationships. I also see a lot of individuals who are unhappy in their relationships but don't know where to start to improve them. Are they the problem? Is it their partners? Or is it the dynamics between them? Perhaps all of the above? Generally, a good place to start is in recognizing your own needs. If you were raised in a home where your needs were invalidated or chronically unmet, this can be a very daunting task. So here are some questions to ask yourself.
I recently wrote about emotional abuse, and how often people think of it as name-calling or explicit cruelty, when really, it might be about someone controlling you with silent disapproval. It's when someone causes you to feel you can never be good enough. That ties into my topic today. Are you in a relationship but often feel completely alone? Your partner might be emotionally withholding.
I just read the fantastic book "Girls & Sex" by Peggy Orenstein. What I love is that while it paints a somewhat dire picture of the landscape for teen (and even pre-teen girls), not to mention young adults, it's not just about diagnosing the problem; there's a prescription. You can help your daughters navigate that landscape, but it involves talking to them differently than you might have considered before. It means that instead of just talking about the risks of sex, we have to talk honestly about rewards, which is probably far more uncomfortable but incredibly valuable. So here are some ideas for how to have those talks. And remember, even if you've been approaching it differently, it's never too late to try something new.