Common Humanity
with Dana Belletiere, LICSW, MSED

Be On Purpose

The Scary And Beautiful Gift of Change

In a conversation on the phone today, my best friend said something brilliant and noteworthy. (He is given to doing this on a whim). He said, “A great many people have compromised their souls in the name of safety and security.” (Told you it was smart. And yes, he actually talks this way, which is one of the reasons why he is fabulous and I love him). And I agree with him - so many of us fear the uncertainty and pain of growth and change to such a degree that we sometimes fight very hard to keep things the same, often sacrificing important budding pieces of ourselves in the process. Of course, I relate to this feeling- though change excites me, it also terrifies me. I fear the prospect of not knowing how things will turn out, and I am not enthusiastic about diving into a story if I don't know that it has a happy ending tied up with a pretty bow. 

Acts of Service

How Much Do We Deserve?

Within my work as a therapist, I’ve had the privilege of meeting countless incredibly selfless and generous individuals - Givers, all of them. Perhaps it’s because I specialize in treating Anxiety, which tends to align closely Shame and Guilt. Those guys don’t make it easy to invest in one’s self-interest very well (or really, at all). 

Be On Purpose

Get Motivated: Using Lists to Create a Balanced Daily Schedule

I don’t really like the word “motivate” at all. To me, it seems like a dressed-up “should,” which is on my least-favorite-words list, and carries with it a sense of dread and obligation: I need to motivate myself to go jogging. You need to motivate yourself to do your homework. Let’s get motivated to clean the house. None of these things sound particularly inspiring (to me, anyway. If you love cleaning, kudos to you. Also please feel free to come over and sprinkle your motivated cleaning magic all over my house anytime). 


Anger Is An (Entirely Normal & Useful) Energy

A question for the ladies: How many of you are uncomfortable with your anger? If someone takes advantage of you, hurts you, shames you, dismisses you, do you sometimes suffer in silence rather than speak up? Do you agonize about how you might confront the individual that made you feel small in the first place? Do you worry about how you might be perceived, not just by this individual, but by other people, if you...


Dealing With Unhealthy Family & Friend Relationships: A Brief How-To

The problem of how best to deal with difficult family members or friends comes up routinely in therapy sessions. This applies to relationships that are sometimes manipulative, shaming, lacking in boundaries, or emotionally abusive. There’s often a heavy dose of the “shoulds” in these sessions: “I should be able to attend this family gathering; I shouldn’t care what my mom thinks, I should be able to talk to x on the phone for ten minutes, etcetera. The fact is that wanting health in one’s relationships with one’s family and friends is a very normal desire, and fair to aspire to. 

How to approach taking care of yourself when dealing with unhealthy family/friend relationships? Here’s a few suggestions:


On Writing and Rewriting (and Rewriting) the Rules.

In therapy sessions with clients, we seem to spend an awful lot of time talking about rules. My clientele (and myself) are generally rule-oriented folks - having a set of structures helps us to feel safe, ordered, and in control. 

Rules come in all shapes and sizes: religious affiliations, spiritual philosophies, cultural trends and dictates, or personal codes. Having these rules can be a part of taking care of the anxious Parts of oneself, and is usually not overly harmful or problematic. 


Stop “Shoulding” All Over Yourself: A Few Thoughts on the Moralizing of Food & Eating.

One of the most interesting parts of being a therapist that specializes in disordered eating is becoming intimately familiar with the "shoulds." Disordered eating patterns appeal to those of us that feel safe in the regimen of rules, and quell our near-constant anxiety with the promise that, as long as we keep doing things in a precise and "right" way, things will turn out okay. When our inner Rebel turns up and pushes us outside the confines of our prescribed "should" behaviors, we experience shame and guilt. Sometimes we punish ourselves.
"Shoulds" are powerful little suckers. 


Confrontation: On (not) Saying What We Need, Out Loud (under our breath, to ourselves)


The challenge of direct and healthy communication is a regular topic that comes up in therapy sessions (and in daily life, for all of us). Sometimes, we find ourselves mired accidentally in reality tv-worthy dramas. Unnecessary disputes result from assumptions made but never expressed. Differing opinions aren’t fully unpacked and people assume the worst of one another. Sometimes, unfortunately, there is an (un)healthy dose of silent treatment with which to contend. 

Straightforward communication...