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Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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When and When Not to Care What People Think

A common discussion I have with clients concerns their worries about what people will think of them. It’s a general attitude they carry around, rather than picking and choosing to care about what certain people think about specific certain things. While caring too much can get folks into trouble, you also don’t want to slide over to the other extreme and not care what anyone thinks about you. The goal is to figure out who’s important and why. We care what people think of us because it’s hard-wired into us. If people don’t think well of us when we are young and we can’t fend for ourselves, we might die. Ditto when we’re old or sick. We need people to think well of us if we’re to survive and thrive. So, when we hear people say, “I don’t care what anyone thinks,” assuming they really mean anyone, there’s something gravely wrong....

Why We Lie to Ourselves

All of us lie to ourselves at one time or another, some of us more than others. Here’s one example you’ll recognize instantly: You’re stuffed to the gills but there’s still a slice of pizza left, so you snarf it down, thinking, “I’ll skip dinner tonight or start a diet tomorrow.” The truthful thought would be, “I’ll feel awful if I eat this slice of pizza and I’ll probably eat a big dinner tonight and eat the same way tomorrow.” This type of lie has a kind of magic to it. It flies against our knowing better, our experience and what we understand about reality. It’s different than the lie you tell your boss that your project is almost done when you’ve barely started it or the one you tell your sister when she asks if you like her expensive new hair cut which she’s wildly excited about but you think...

Mistakes Help You Win, Not Lose

I recently read a great quote which had no attribution, “I’d rather make mistakes than do nothing, I’d rather mess up than miss out completely.” How true, how true. It seems that people are either on one side of this divide or the other: willing to mess up in order to win or succeed or, at the other extreme, living in fear of erring and surrendering a chance to reach their goals. Sad, huh? Whether we’re talking missteps or major failures, what’s the secret the person quoted above knows that people who fear messing up don’t? It’s really no secret at all, just an entirely different mindset than believing you must do everything right that causes you to live in terror of doing things wrong. The idea is to accept that missteps are an essential part of life that we can’t escape and not be ashamed when you do something that...

Defending Yourself Is Not the Same as Being Abusive

I could swear I’ve blogged about victims of abuse thinking that defending themselves against mistreatment constitutes abuse. So here are my thoughts, perhaps again. My client Judy’s wife, Dee, blows up at the least little thing. She has a whole litany of criticisms about Judy and demands she listen patiently to every last one of them. If Judy tries to leave in the midst of Dee’s tirade, she’s accused of being self-absorbed and ignoring Dee’s needs. Finally, one night when Dee started screaming at Judy the minute she came home from work, Judy yelled back, “Shut the f*** up.”  In our next session, though, rather than be proud of speaking up, Judy felt awful, insisting, “I’m just like Dee. I can’t believe I cursed her out. Shame on me.” A generally soft-spoken person, it’s hard to even imagine Judy cursing, so she clearly had been pushed to the brink. Her retort...

What’s the Difference Between a Friend and a Therapist?

Some people say they don’t need a therapist because they have friends, while others rely heavily on family alone. Relatives may be helpful, but we can’t rely on them to support what’s best for us because they’re often invested in themselves, in us as is, and lack distance and perspective to advise what’s in our best interest.  That’s what a therapist is for. I thought about the friend/therapist divide one day talking with an old friend. The friend in me wanted to be empathic, while the therapist in me knew that the healthiest response to what she presented as a problem was to challenge the slanted picture she was painting. Unfortunately, the therapist in me was first out of the gate until I reined her back in and, instead, switched hats (apologies for mixed metaphors) and simply offered compassion for what she was feeling. This is exactly why therapists can do...

Who Takes Care of You?

The other day I read a phrase that virtually begged to be blogged about: “Okay, I’m over self-care. Everyone else can take care of me now.” How wonderful is that? We hear so much about self-care in the media (and in therapy) that the other half of the equation, having others take care of us, often gets lost in the shuffle. The truth is that life is exponentially better when we care well for ourselves and also have others care for us. You might be wondering what kind of care I mean. Most people think of doing things for people who are sick or have a disability and can’t fend for themselves. That’s one kind of caring, but there are more. I think of caring for people as falling into three categories: emotional, physical and social, but there may be other ways to think about the subject. In emotional care-taking, people...

Emotions and Actions

People who grow up in dysfunctional families often are highly reactive in situations. How can children learn what to feel and how to react appropriately in relationships if parents and family are emotionally unhealthy? We need healthy role models for that to happen. For example, my client Mona was insulted by something a co-worker drew on a “community” board in the lunch room at work. Mona thought they’d had a decent relationship, so she was hurt and angry that this woman would make fun of her publicly. The back story is that Mona and her co-worker had a brief interaction previously which had, unbeknownst to Mona, bothered the co-worker.  Mona was hurt by the drawing. Who wouldn’t be? With her history of emotional abuse in childhood and adulthood, her reactions ran unsurprisingly in two directions—either she felt full of rage and wanted to hurt someone back or she wanted to isolate...

Why Do We Care What People Think of Our Appearance?

I get having concerns about what people think of you. Mine have lessened with age, but I swear I’ll be heading into the cremation oven—still wondering, “Do I look alright?” Self-consciousness for me is second nature coming from very looks conscious parents.  Now that we’re no longer children, though, it’s time to move toward becoming more comfortable with how we look. One way to do that is to understand that our discomfort is not based in the past. There are actually folks out there who weren’t made to feel bad about their particular hair/thighs/stomach/nose/chin/etc. and are walking around today not thinking much, if at all, about these body parts. Or maybe their whole family was higher weight and no one made a big deal about it. Though we can’t restart our lives in another family that doesn’t have “bad-body” issues, we can make changes in the present by paying attention to...

Mature Hurt

There’s a world of difference between the emotional hurt of a child and that of an adult. Because the human brain doesn’t fully develop until the late 20s, children and adolescents have only partially formed brains whose final part is our frontal lobes which are responsible for cognitive functions such as problem solving, memory and judgment. Prior to that, we rely mostly on emotions to assess and react to situations. Think about the nearly unbearable hurt and pain you felt as a child. No matter how wonderful and functional your childhood was, you suffered. Maybe you got lost in a department store at age 5, frantic to find your parents. Or at age 9 you listened to them screaming at each other night after night and were terrified they’d hurt each other and you’d end up alone. Or at 16 Dad left you and mom and you were sure it was...

Book Review: Codependency: Loves Me, Loves Me Not

A client gave me a book on co-dependency which I’d never heard of, but it was full of wonderful insights and advice. A quick read, Co-dependency: Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Simeon Lindstrom, hits all the right notes on the subject.  It’s a must read if you: feel lost when you’re not in a romantic relationshipbelieve you’re responsible for others’ feelingsfeel pressure to rescue people who have problems or to make them feel betteroften are taken advantage of and are then outraged and feel like a victim tend to be attracted to and have relationships with people who end up hurting youhave difficulty ending relationships in which you’re hurt repeatedlyalways worry about what others think of youavoid hurting others’ feelings and end up hurting yourself This book explains the adult, mature, healthy mindset you want to have in relating to others: You’re independent, though sometimes you depend on people situationally. You...