Common Humanity
with Dana Belletiere, LICSW, MSED


In Pursuit Of Real Health: Why Dieting Isn’t “Healthy”.


One of the more pervasive (and exasperating) ideas I hear in therapy sessions is the notion of pursuing weight loss and dieting in the name of "health." I am speaking specifically about the vast sea of us that are otherwise perfectly medically healthy, but, for one reason or another (ahem, cultural pressures and social media, ahem), are looking to diets to change our size and make ourselves smaller. We inevitably frame this as "eating healthy" or "getting healthy." In my experience, it's rare that health is the outcome of dieting practices.

Health is physical, emotional, and mental. When we place all of the emphasis on the pursuit of "health" purely as it relates to the size and shape of our bodies, we rob ourselves of the significant health benefits of socialization, spontaneity, fun, and flexibility. We corner ourselves into a regimen that robs us of the joy in life. 


On My Nana’s Funeral, When They Showed Up.

When my Nana died, I told my husband that he didn't have to come to the funeral with me. I'd made peace with her passing some time before, and I felt confident that the funeral would be more of an exercise in paying my respects than a major emotional experience in which I'd need support. And, since we live far away, it made more sense for him to stay home, go to work, take care of our cats - in the scope of things, it didn't seem to me like a situation that required an escort. So, he stayed, and I went alone. 


Should I Throw In The Towel? 3 Signs That It’s Time To Quit.

I am solidly pro-quitting. Simply put, as a therapist, I have seen too many individuals wasting too much time on things that they feel they  "should" be doing. Jobs, hobbies, friendships. Exercise regimens. Diets. High school students sleeping five hours or less to engage in "extra-curriculars" that they no longer love, or even enjoy, to meet some arbitrary college admissions standard. "Quit 'em all!" is my impulse suggestion. Yes, I realize my advice might not be realistic. And, for obvious reasons, it is not often met with enthusiasm.


On Good Guys & Bad Guys: Can We Learn to Love Our Flaws?


I am a big fan of superhero stories. A good superhero story, well done, achieves the difficult feat of making a deeply flawed, sometimes outright unlikeable individual relatable - someone that you want to cheer on, someone that you want to succeed. In the best superhero stories, there is a very fine line between the heroes and the villains - should the story be told the other way round, the villain might just as easily become the hero. Goodness and badness are blurred - every character contains pieces of both. 

Be On Purpose

On Listening To Ourselves, And Making Room To Play.


I am on the first vacation I’ve taken since last summer, and it is well worth the wait. I am looking at palm trees, hearing birds and a lovely wind chime, and watching scuttling lizards. I am with people that I love and trust deeply, with whom I can wholly be myself. I am taking time to breathe and to check in on what’s going on. Inside. With me. 


Pick Yourself! On Attending To Your Own Self-Care First .

Not very many years ago at all, I found myself at a crossroads. I was working at a job that was highly fulfilling and meaningful, but also grueling, exhausting, and crisis-oriented. I wanted badly to continue doing important work, but found my own health and self-care failing as I tried to keep up. If I was to remain in that position, it would mean making physical, emotional, and financial sacrifices over time, truly letting my own needs go in the process. So I went rogue.
I picked myself. 


Black Sheep: When Our People Are Not Our People

We kind of land wherever we land in this life, and it doesn't always make a great deal of sense.

We are born to certain people, in particular neighborhoods, in cities or suburbs, into cultures and value and religious systems, and we don't really get a whole lot of say in the matter. We just sort of end up somewhere, and sometimes, the people with whom we've landed aren't really Our People. 


Is The Communication In My Relationship Healthy? 4 “Red Flag” Behaviors.


Communication in relationships can become strained in the face of arguments and disagreements. Because all healthy relationships contain conflict, it’s important to be aware of the signs that communication patterns have become unhealthy. Here’s four red flags to be on the lookout for to insure that your communication patterns remain useful, respectful, and positive:


Listen To Me: The Simple Power of Bearing Witness


As a clinician, I sometimes get incredibly freaked out by all of the things I do not know. 

Do others in the healing professions relate to this?

The trainings are endless, the specializations so minute. I could learn constantly for three years on end and I wouldn’t emerge feeling fully competent. The scope of available information is infinite. 

I find it helpful in these moments of feeling my small-ness to touch back on the foundations of  the healing arts - the basics - to remember that the true power of therapeutic work comes in the small elements of joining another person in their emotional space. At the core of  our practice, we are witnesses - listeners. I am confident, at the very least, that I have honed this skill. It helps to remind myself that listening well, on it's own, is worth so much. 


When Help Is Harmful: Thoughts On “Snowplow” Parenting

The recent news about wealthy/celebrity parents paying to have their children accepted into colleges via fraudulent methods has gotten me thinking. My first thought is, "Wait, isn't this old news? I thought we all knew this was going on." My second thought is the stuff of this post: a thread around the larger concept of parents' removing obstacles out of the way of their children, sometimes called "snowplow parenting." What happens when parents move from being a background source of support and guidance to a front-line player in their children's affairs? When does help become harmful?