September 30, 2012
“My spouse is verbally abusive, short tempered, and critical of me but only in private, and then as sweet as can be to me in public and to strangers. I have put up with it for years. Surely those we are closest with should get the best treatment? What should I say? I am called sensitive, over-reactive, and thin-skinned if I say anything about it at all.” (Edited)
Your spouse has appeared to objectify you and is unhappy with the performance of that object. He or she appears to regard you as a possession, perhaps as a car or an appliance that does not quite meet expectations.
Every time you put up with the abuse you are not “being sensitive, over-reactive, and thin-skinned,” you are agreeing to be a victim. You are agreeing with your spouse’s perception of you as something to be treated as desired.
Until you stand up for yourself, until you do something most unusual, until you rock and roll when your spouse has become accustomed to leading you in a waltz, the dance will remain the same and you will be a victim for the rest of your life.
Be sure I am not blaming you for the abuse, but I am holding you accountable for accommodating it.
September 16, 2012
“I am recently divorced and had a relationship with an athlete for 4 months. He was very keen in the beginning. I had to put on the brakes as I don’t rush into matters. He was just three weeks out of a relationship himself and I could not understand why he was in such a hurry! He lives about 45 minutes away but would never visit me. I had to go to his place. Then he mistreated me, and said I had a bad attitude and was far too sensitive! Before this he called less frequently and the invitations were less frequent. I discovered he was seeing someone else. Why do men do this? I really feel used and abused!”
- Not all men do this. While you are willing to spend another minute with one who has already mistreated you, you will keep meeting such men.
- The first red flags waved when he expected you to do all the driving. If it is not mutual, respectful, and equal it is not worth having.
- Forget trying to understand him. It is no longer your business. Try to understand healthy men – study strength, not pathology.
- Forgive yourself. You blew it. Learn and move on.
September 13, 2012
Therapists often get a bad rap. It’s often suggested therapists lead clients to “navel gaze” or blame their parents. I have heard amusing tales of therapists who apparently sit and passively listen and offer random, affirming utterances. You’ve probably seen the cartoons.
My own approach is eclectic, which, by the way, in the therapy world, is cool.
I can be very active in sessions.
I can be very quiet.
I draw lots of flowcharts (also called Genograms), prescribe books, and offer challenges.
I (almost) NEVER ask people how they feel and I spend zero time cultivating empathy.
Whether I fully identify with a client is not nearly as important as the ability to stimulate a client into action on his or her own behalf.
All this said, there are things worthy of good, solid navel-gaze:
- Are you being the healthiest member of your family (or group) you are able to be?
- Are you regularly using your developed skills and strengths?
- Are you blaming others for anything?
- Have you abdicated your God-given power over any part of your life?
- Are you exercising illegitimate power over anyone?
- Are you harboring resentment?
- Are you exercising “downward mobility” by seeking to serve rather than be served?