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.
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.
People have all sorts of reactions to stress. One that is often under-recognized is irritability. You might think that other people have just become more annoying lately, but nope. It's you. The good news is, if it's you, then there are things you can do about it. Here's a good place to start.
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.
My Facebook and my email inbox are full of stories of parents sending their kids off to school this week--from kindergarten through college. Often, it's with a lot of pride and equal amounts of tears. But there are all sorts of less dramatic and daily ways that we need to let our kids go: by loosening the reins, allowing them to make their own mistakes, and facing the consequences from the world rather than from us. If we want our kids to soar, sometimes we also have to let them fall. But as a friend just said to me: It's so damn hard, isn't it? Continue on for some suggestions of how to make it easier, or if not easier, then at least to feel more effective and purposeful. Here goes!
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.
Are you looking for more emotional support? More connection? More intimacy? More personal space? More expressions of concern, validation, love? The first step to getting is knowing; the second step is asking (or insisting.) My last blog post was How to Know What You Need in Relationships, and now it's time for Step 2.
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.