What’s Wrong With Anger Management?

      Let’s say you were an alcoholic. Would it be better to be what the people in AA programs often call a “dry drunk,” i.e., someone who isn’t drinking but is white-knuckling it the whole time, or, on the other hand, someone who actually doesn’t even think about taking a drink?   The second person, if offered, could take it or leave it. I enjoy coffee, and am sure to have a cup every morning, but if someone offered it to me in the middle of the day, I might say, “No, thanks” because it just didn’t appeal to me at that moment. You see where I’m going? – The dry drunk wants that drink sooooo badly. The other person is not attached to his or her drink. The drink is pleasant at the right time and not of interest at other times. That “not attachment” is the ideal place for anger. It is useful at times and not at all of interest at other times. Times Anger Is Useful Anger at oneself may be useful. If you did something wrong, it is better to be really upset with yourself over it than to gloss over it as if it wasn’t important. Of course, there is another aspect of anger which is that there is an endpoint to even useful anger. Sometimes, enough is enough. We are not supposed to wallow in self-flagellation. Anger at another could also be useful. You love your child so much, that in your eyes he could do no wrong. But he just did wrong. You may have to work yourself up just a...

The Surprising Role of Body Language in Assertiveness

How does it get this good?…. “My wife and I are together, and expect to be forever. We’ve learned to deal with one another and learned to identify and control our bad habits. I’ve learned why I was an abusive man and how to not be an abuser. “Sometimes I see my old habits in others and feel empathy and compassion – and wish they had the advantages of a hundred or so sessions with Dr. Deb. Thanks so much for your help. Our time together was an investment worth more than anything I’ve ever done in my life. I believe that I owe my life to your help – certainly, I didn’t realize that I could be this happy again.” –Florida Well, of course I was pleased as punch to receive an email with this nice news. After all, YOUR happiness is what I get up for in the morning! Every day! But I was also curious. I wanted to know, how all this came about. Why was I hearing from him now out of the blue? So I wrote him back. And here is what he said: “Your assertiveness worksheet became a habit. Instead of playing intellectual one-upsmanship games with clever dialogue with a goal of “winning” some non-existent, delusional contest, I trained myself to be honest and ask myself, ‘Why am I thinking this?'” And I have to tell you, I’ve heard so many good things about my Assertive Sheet that I decided to share some of it with you here on my blog. Here goes . . . Part I of my Assertive Sheet is...

Book Review: Why Does Married Sex Go Wrong?

You and I both know that when someone is yelling at, criticizing, belittling, or ignoring a spouse, sex gets lost in the shuffle. No matter how much Person 1 apologizes, Person 2 is still hurt. After all, a smack is a smack, whether it’s physical or verbal: You feel the sting long after it’s over. So the heartfelt apology just doesn’t do it. And then if you add in a cycle of years or decades of these “mistakes” and apologies, what you get is….nothing. Sex is dead and the marriage for all intents and purposes is also dead. With that in mind, I’d like to do a review of David Schnarch’s book, Intimacy & Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship, 2009. Obviously, it’s always nice to find another therapist who sees things as I do. The only way that sex can work is if there is trust and respect (words that are in the subtitle of my course which includes a book). Here are some pieces that I underlined because they interested me: On p. 37 he says, “The relationship in which you seek refuge pushes you to develop a more solid self, like pushing toothpaste out of a tube by progressively winding the other end. the love relationship you thought would make you feel safe and secure pouds your fragile reflected sense of self into something solid and lasting.” Schnarch is a follower of the concepts of Murray Bowen. Bowen’s premise is that if a person has a “solid” sense of who he is, he will not be thrown by criticism. He will not feel criticized when...

How to Counteract Mental Abuse: A Case Study

Here is the story of Laurie and Nate. [NOTE: I’m sure you realize that I do not use real people’s stories here. I know you’ve seen on TV and online all sorts of horrible “true life” stories, some even by therapists. This is unethical. It’s taking advantage of people when they’re down. I realize that many programs provide therapy in the background and that is excellent. But if you Google some of the people’s names you will find that they did not have good outcomes from all that self-revelation on national TV. In one or two cases, people even committed suicide. In any case, the ethics of my profession don’t permit it and I am in full agreement with them. So when I get real live testimonials, I don’t use a name at all. In my case studies, I make up composites of what I have heard over the years and then add my imagination.] Laurie was 26 when she married Nate. She was shy, yet people thought she was outgoing because she put on a front of friendliness. It’s not that she didn’t feel friendly; she genuinely liked people. It’s just that she never would be certain that they would like her in return. But she had discovered that if she showed her true feelings of liking people, they would usually like her back. So that worked. Nate was different. He didn’t care at all if people liked him, but this never came out in dating. In dating, he seemed very kind and considerate. He also donated money to charity which really impressed Laurie. She thought he was...

Men’s Key Ingredient to a Happy, Healthy, Loving Marriage

You did know there were problems. For sure, there were problems. But you honestly did not know they were THIS bad. Your wife left. Or threatened to leave. Or saw an attorney. Or served you with divorce papers. Or had an affair. Or you find yourself paying attention to other women. What’s going on?? How did this happen?? I can tell you that it did not happen out of the clear blue sky. There were warnings. You either didn’t see them or didn’t understand what they meant. Or didn’t want to. The truth is — and I don’t care how long you’ve been married — you don’t know women. You do know that you love your wife. Or loved. Or thought you did. For sure, that is something you know. But you don’t even know why. Or maybe you do. But you still don’t understand her. And you are feeling a combination right now of panic and hopelessness. Maybe also anger. All that is normal. I get that. I get that for two reasons. First of all because I am a therapist and 50% of the people who call me for private therapy are men in your situation. And I’ve helped them! (Please see my About DrDeb page to get an idea of my interesting history and experience. Please see the blog post What’s the Difference Between Therapy and Coaching to get how I work with — and help — people.) The second reason is that I’m a woman. So I understand women. The thing is, we are really not that hard to figure out. We’re just different and...

What’s the Difference Between Therapy and Coaching?

Therapists are struggling to help people but the internet — and your neighborhood — have become filled with coaches extolling the benefits of *not* being therapists. Really, the argument is as silly as trying to convince everyone that the only ice cream that tickles the taste buds is chocolate. Some people prefer vanilla, some chocolate, and luckily there are probably around a hundred other flavors to accommodate aficionados. Everyone can get to choose. So here is a quick and painless run-down of the different approaches to helping people. First of all, there is no such thing as “a” kind of therapy. There are probably hundreds of therapy approaches — like ice cream flavors — and it is important to know one  approach from the other. After all, you are a consumer (or you could become one.) You might want to take a look at my article, What You Need to Know About the Different Therapy Approaches and my video, Marriage-Friendly Therapy, or some oldies but goodies on this site on the subject of a holistic approach to therapy. One notes that holistic therapy is More Than Behavior, More Than Feelings; the other wonders why therapists should look at peoples’ deficits rather than their strengths in A Different Way of Viewing Problems. If you’re not in the mood to read all that, suffice it to say that all psychotherapy is not talk-talk-talk. You’d be thinking of psychoanalysis, if that’s what you thought it was. Freud, the inventor of psychoanalysis, believed people need to talk to discover their real feelings at the core of their problems. And I have known people...

5 Tips to Get Kids to Do Homework

Here are my 5 tips for parents to get kids not only to do their homework but get into the homework-doing mood. Tip #1: Homework Should Fit The Goldilocks Principle Goldilocks had it right: whether it’s porridge or homework, the best is the one that is not at either extreme, but somewhere in the middle. If the homework is too easy, your child will get an unrealistic idea of what life has in store. Think about it: Imagine the kid who slid through school and now goes out for a first job – and is actually expected to put in time working! Kids who end up at Harvard find the same thing. They had it easy all the years in school and suddenly they’re faced with other children who also did: They’re meeting their match. Uh-oh, they have to work! And if it’s too hard, well, they might just quit on you. Where do you draw the line? How do you find the perfect sweet spot? Parents have to not only use their judgment on that, but they have to be really honest with themselves when they do. They have to be sure that they are not drawing the line at either the “too easy” or the “too hard” extreme because of their own emotional needs. Parents can get into doing that. They want to be the child’s “friend” so they complain to the school that the homework is “too” hard. Maybe it’s a wee bit too hard, but not so hard that it can’t be done. Or parents want to push their kids excessively so they call anything...

Stop Being Needy Before You Start Dating

What do you think is the biggest dating mistake? Its being needy. What I mean is this: a person getting into a relationship has to be prepared to GIVE. Being a giver – as I’ve said before on this blog – is crucial. The reason is simple. If both people in the relationship are needy, then each is always expecting something/wanting something from the other. Neediness is like a bucket with holes in the bottom; you can never put in enough. WHY NEEDINESS IS LIKE A BUCKET WITH HOLES Let’s answer this important question by taking a zoom lense into a home with little children who are well-loved. Jimmy, 3, is building a lego tower and the whole thing won’t stay built. Down it comes! Jimmy doesn’t really know whether that means he is just stupid and incapable or whether that’s what is supposed to happen based on the laws of gravity. Jimmy hasn’t interacted with the world enough to really know. So, his dad, watching, says, “Good job!” Jimmy is puzzled. “But it came down!” he says. “Oh, yeah, that’s okay,” his dad answers. “When you put that many bricks on, it will come down. But you built it up real nice.” Now, Jimmy knows two things: he gets gravity and he gets that he is doing things the right way. Whew! He decides to put on fewer bricks next go-around to see what happens. Jimmy’s dad has done something really important for his development. By giving him simple feedback, he’s given his son the confidence to experiment without feeling shame or concern about his own capabilities. Now,...
Show Buttons
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkdin
Hide Buttons