Posts tagged with ‘self help’

27 jul

Different Approaches to Ending Drug Addiction

RobertCordrayThe problem of how to end drug addiction is as old as the human race, with many varied and complex solutions put forward over the years attempting to deal with it. However, this range of approaches generally fall into three main categories:


The most common and widely used means of dealing with drug addiction is to pass laws that prohibit the sale or use of addictive substances. Prohibition is accompanied by penalties that are designed to punish those who use or sell drugs, with the penalties generally more severe for sellers than users.

Advantages of Prohibition

Making addictive drugs against the law makes it more difficult to obtain them. The penalties associated with using and selling drugs also discourage people who might be tempted to experiment with addictive drugs, but who refrain because of fear of the consequences of getting caught.

Disadvantages of Prohibition

Some people argue that prohibition is actually ineffective, pointing to how the problem persists no matter how much resources are devoted to law enforcement. Critics also argue that the resources spent on prohibition would be better spent on more serious crimes.


At the opposite end of the spectrum from the prohibitionists are those who favor the legalization of addictive drugs. Supporters of legalization argue that much of the harm done by drug addiction is created by the fact that drugs are illegal, driving them underground where they cannot be regulated or controlled. Legalization supporters argue that drug addiction can never really be eliminated from society, so the best society can do is monitor and control it by making drugs legal.

Advantages of Legalization

The chief advantage of legalization would be that the effort and money that is currently devoted to policing drug activity could be redirected to other uses. It would also make using drugs safer by bringing drug use out of the underground economy and into the open where it could be regulated for safety and dosage.

Disadvantages of Legalization

Critics of legalization suggest that the total number of users of addictive drugs would only increase if drugs were to become more easily available. They fear that a legalized environment would actually encourage drug use through advertising or other promotional techniques commonly used by suppliers of legal products.


A third approach is provided by those who feel that the focus should not be on prohibiting or legalizing drugs, but on addiction recovery services that would allow addicts to recover and resume normal lives. Supporters of the recovery approach believe that the best way to deal with drug dealing is to eliminate their customers by ending their addictive behavior.

Advantages of Recovery

Recovery saves lives by ending the destructive cycle of addiction before it ruins or ends the life of the addict. It also deprives drug dealers of customers, thereby lessening the problems that are associated with prohibition without encouraging drug use as feared by those opposing legalization.

Disadvantages of Recovery

Unfortunately, there is no agreed upon means for how to recover from drug addiction. Successful treatment usually requires techniques that are geared to the needs of the specific individual, which can make it time consuming and expensive. It is also not always clear what to do when the addict simply doesn’t want to stop using drugs.

The Hybrid Method

In the end, no one has all the insights into how to end drug addiction. That is why most societies use a hybrid approach employing all three approaches – some prohibition and law enforcement, semi-legalization of the less harmful drugs, and recovery services for those who seek them. The hope is that over time, this combination approach will work to control and eventually end drug addiction.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on July 27th, 2014 in Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

20 jul

Taking the Steps to Addiction Recovery

RobertCordrayDual diagnosis treatment is a relatively new development in mental health care and addiction recovery. Until recently, clinicians treated mental illness as a separate condition from drug or alcohol addiction. When the conditions overlapped in a dual diagnosis, mental health treatment came only after addiction rehab. This was known as “sequential treatment.”

The Problem with Sequential Treatment

Sequential treatment was the norm as recent as a decade ago. Until then, most clinicians subscribed to a division between mental health treatment and addiction recovery. This meant that people with a dual diagnosis were excluded from one treatment area until they were stable in the other. For example, a depressed alcoholic could not receive therapy for depression until he went through detox and rehab.

Since addictions often stem from psychiatric disorders, people with a dual diagnosis need different types of therapy. When research showed that sequential treatment led to high rates of addiction relapse, its popularity diminished. Today, dual diagnosis treatment centers combine successful aspects of mental health care with substance abuse treatment. The clinicians have credentials and training in co-occurring disorders.

The Benefits of Dual Diagnosis

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), only 12 percent of the four million Americans with a dual diagnosis in 2002 were treated for both conditions. Today, many rehab centers offer personalized treatment services for those with dual conditions. Nevertheless, finding the right program is a challenge.

Rehab centers that offer parallel services increase recovery chances. They offer supportive therapies that bolster self-esteem and build self-confidence. The most effective treatments bring spouses and other family members into therapy for individual and group counseling.

Many addicts feel immense relief when they receive a dual diagnosis, especially if they lived with an undiagnosed condition for a long time. If they suffered with long-term depression, severe mood swings, painful flashbacks, hallucinations or suicidal thoughts, giving their condition a name can give them hope. A properly trained rehab team can help them can help them recover from mental illness while they battle their addictions.

Dual Diagnosis Therapy Options

People who meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis are classified when they enter treatment. They generally suffer with a condition such as depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder as well as alcoholism, drug addiction or another addictive disorder. The most effective treatment considers both conditions.

No single treatment works for everyone with a dual diagnosis. There are many mental health disorders, and the relationship between mental illness and addiction is complicated. Individual recovery plans address specific disorders as well as personal histories of addictive behaviors.

Residential Treatment

People with severe mental illness or heavy drug or alcohol use may benefit from residential treatment programs. This type of therapy offers intensive, 24-hour care and monitoring. It is especially helpful for those who experience psychotic episodes or suicidal thoughts.

Outpatient Treatment

Addicts who are physically and mentally stable may benefit from outpatient treatment, where they can live at home and go to work during their rehabilitation. Because of the minimal supervision, outpatient therapy requires a high level of dedication to recovery to prevent relapse.

Pharmacological Therapy

Pharmacological therapy is usually a key component of dual diagnosis treatment. People with mental illness usually require medications to stabilize their moods, reduce anxiety and prevent flashbacks or hallucinations. While psychiatric medications are often discouraged in substance abuse treatment programs, dual diagnosis patients can benefit from pharmacotherapy during rehab.

Family Counseling

Family counseling is an important part of addiction recovery. This type of therapy educates spouses, children and siblings about addiction and mental health. As they begin to understand their loved one’s condition, they are more likely to provide support for recovery.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is also essential to the recovery process. Peer support groups and 12-step programs are available for addicts, friends and loved ones. Group sessions remind those with drug and alcohol addictions that they are not alone in their struggles.

Most people benefit from a combination of treatment therapies. Getting their lives back on track requires help and hope, and dual diagnosis treatment provides both. Relying on members of their treatment team as well as their loved ones can make rehabilitation easier and more effective.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on July 20th, 2014 in Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

09 mar

The Self-Sabotaging Behavior of Denial

WEJMDMost people have a variety of self-sabotaging behaviors that prevent them from manifesting the life that they want. The first step in overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors is to first recognize them. One of the most powerful self-sabotaging behaviors is denial.

Denial is a defense mechanism that discharges anxiety and emotional discomfort. By denying there’s a problem we don’t have to feel bad about the fact that there’s a problem. Unfortunately this doesn’t solve anything or make our lives better. It just sweeps our problems under the rug. They’re still there. Still gnawing at us and still getting in our way.

One example is the area of health. If we have a bump and we are afraid to go to a doctor to find out that it might be something really bad we deny that it is a problem. Unfortunately when it becomes the elephant in the room, something we no longer can deny, it becomes a problem much more difficult to resolve than had we acknowledged it and faced it when it first appeared.

One form of denial is denying that our behaviors are actually self sabotaging. For example, when we are late for an appointment we might tell ourselves that it’s not going to matter, that the excuse we give will be accepted and that there won’t be any negative consequences. But this usually isn’t true. When we are late for appointments or don’t call people back in a timely fashion, as another example, people may be gracious about it but they probably are registering some degree of irritation, disappointment, feeling disrespected or undervalued. And this may over time lead to passive aggressive behavior on their part or them not doing something to assist us in the future when we ask them for help.


Shakespeare once wrote “the fault dear Brutus lies not in our stars but ourselves that we are underlings.” So one form of denial would be thinking that the fault lies outside of ourselves and that we are victims of a hostile, chaotic universe out of our control, as opposed to us being the prime movers of our fate.

This is a very powerful form of denial, blaming other people and circumstances for our difficulties. For example when we tailgate and get into a car accident we have a tendency to call it an accident when it is actually the result of our poor judgment and we tend to blame the car in front of us for stopping abruptly.

This is very common to blame others and not take responsibility for our actions. Oftentimes when couples fight, one partner will blame the other partner, stating that “you made me angry, you made me throw the toaster against the wall, you made me scream at you, you made me hit you, if you hadn’t antagonized me, if you hadn’t pushed my buttons, if you hadn’t called me that name, if you hadn’t provoked me, then I wouldn’t have behaved that way.” Denial in this case is the denial of ownership. It doesn’t matter if we are provoked. We have a choice to behave correctly and honorably or not and if we don’t, and don’t admit it then we are in denial.

Denial is very common with alcoholics and addicts. “If I just have one drink it won’t really matter, I’ll be able to handle it, it won’t escalate into a serious problem.” Alcoholics and addicts tell themselves this despite having a history of one drink or one drug hit escalating into a serious problem.

Another form of denial in regard to alcohol and drugs is that people oftentimes convince themselves that other people don’t know when they are high. This is usually never the case. Most people can tell when other people are under the influence.

We are in denial when we abuse other people and tell ourselves that they’ll get over it, they’re not going to leave us. Usually, sooner or later, they do, and when they do there is often too much water under the bridge, too much built up resentment and anger for the relationship to be repaired.

We are in denial when we keep on putting off proper diet and exercise. The denial part is not that we are denying these are important things to do but that it won’t one day catch up with us and put us in the grave prematurely. We deny the long-term consequences of our actions.


When someone tells us something we don’t want to hear or deal with, we find ways to attack them and invalidate them so that we don’t have to acknowledge that they’ve made a good point. We might tell them that “you do it too.” And so this allows us to deny the importance of us getting our own house in order regardless of how other people behave.

In relationships when we tell our partner that “I don’t have any problem. I don’t need anger management. You’re the one with the problem not me. You’re the one who needs therapy not me,” this is denial in spades and is a sure fire predictor of a relationship that will never heal and will most likely one day disintegrate. This is another example of shooting the messenger.

Another form of denial is called “contempt prior to investigation” which means we prejudge and reject an idea without first evaluating it to determine if it might have validity. “That’s not going to work.” “It’s a waste of time.” These are dogmatic denials that have no basis in reality because we actually haven’t looked at the data.

Another form of denial is “doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Some people refer to this as insanity.

When we are told something that is true that we don’t want to hear or deal with and we seek out people who will yes us and support our position, this is denial. Just because we can find a bunch of people who tell us we’re right doesn’t mean we’re right.

“I’m only kidding” is a form of denial. When we say something to somebody that is hurtful and they react negatively, we backpedal and claim that “I was only kidding.” Sometimes it’s not denial, we know that we weren’t kidding and that we were making a harsh point, but oftentimes we con ourselves into believing that we really were only kidding, we were only teasing, we meant no real harm and that the person was being overly sensitive. This prevents us from looking at our behavior objectively and correcting it.


Living in the past and not seeing the handwriting on the wall is a form of denial. Whether or not you think marijuana should be legalized and whether or not you think gay marriage should be legalized, the handwriting on the wall is that these things will one day universally come to pass and to deny this and fight this is really a huge waste of time, energy and resources that could best be spent elsewhere.

Another form of denial is denying that forgiveness, acceptance, and love have the power to move mountains. Most people believe that anger and aggression are the way to solve problems. In the short run this may seem to be the case but in the long run they are not. Love is a miraculous force that can transform. When two people are fighting with each other, if one person can rise above the battlefield and express true unconditional acceptance, forgiveness and love, it oftentimes can discharge all the negativity and restore peace in the relationship.

Most people think that forgiveness is a sign of weakness. They don’t believe that the meek shall inherit the earth. This is denial. Forgiveness is a reflection of great strength and personal power. Survival of the fittest will one day prove to be survival not of the physically fittest but of the spiritually fittest: those who choose not to fight and instead insist upon finding peaceful resolutions.

The premise of my book Forgive To Win! is that we sabotage ourselves with denial and in other ways as well because at an unconscious level we are filled with guilt, shame and self-loathing; at an unconscious level we believe we are undeserving and unworthy of happiness, health and success, and that our subconscious mind, believing what we believe about ourselves at an unconscious level, believing that we deserve punishment and not reward, manifests in the real world that “truth” by causing us to do things that get in our way and generate failure.

So — if self-sabotage and denial are the result of guilt, shame and self-loathing, then the way to end self sabotage and denial is to love ourselves and forgive ourselves. The way to love ourselves and forgive ourselves is to love others, forgive others and be of service to others. The more we do this, the more we send the message to our subconscious mind that we are good, loving beings who deserve happiness and success, the more the subconscious mind shifts its purpose. It stops whispering negative messages in our ears, it stops encouraging us to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors, and it helps us to attract positive people and circumstances in our lives that will be rewarding rather than punishing.

The Forgiveness Diet is a structured program of daily exercises and behaviors to help achieve the goal of ending self sabotage.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on March 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

05 mar

6 Ways You Torment Yourself at Work and How to Stop

Kerrigan2Let’s face it: At one time or another, you have tormented yourself at work. Often, the ritual is daily. Without a doubt, it’s more frequent than most people know. You have to catch yourself to even know what’s making you feel bad or sad. We are so conditioned to look on the dark side, that negativity becomes our automatic default. In fact, I ‘ll bet that the main reason you’re reading this right now is the word “torment” in the title. Yes?

So—why do you do it? What is the main reason for all that torment?

Here it is: Fear of failure, of not being good enough, as though you have to prove yourself–-often.

Here are 6 ways you suffer and how to stop:

#1: You’re afraid to ask questions

Of all the performance and productivity killers I’ve seen in the workplace, confusion, by far, is numero uno. It can hold you back and delay progress, and often goes undetected because most people hate to admit when they’re confused. Ipso facto: They hate to ask questions.

Whole processes can screech to a halt when someone somewhere along the line is too afraid to ask: “How does this work?,” “What am I supposed to be doing?,” “Why is this needed?” You get the idea.

When you’re afraid to ask, you lack clarity, and torment yourself in many ways. Your job becomes a guessing game. You have no idea what you’re doing and you fear that, if you ask, you’ll look ridiculous. So, you put yourself and your team at risk.

Worst of all, your anxiety increases as you worry about things going wrong, and then it reaches an all-time high when they actually do.

Stop. Ask. The more confident you become, the stronger and less fearful you will be, and the better you will perform.

#2: You’re afraid of answering questions

This brings me to the flip side of that coin: fear of answering questions. Many executives are known for this. They think it’s the mark of strong leadership if they appear as though they have all the answers. So, instead of seeming weak, they avoid questions like the plague.

They become politicians, not leaders, sidestepping questions with vague and inane answers. Then, their insecurity and torment passes to their team, and everyone is confused and lost.

Is this what you really want?

Stop tormenting yourself and your team by trying so hard and making it up as you go along. Stop giving wrong or incomplete information. It is your job to problem solve, to get answers, and to know where to look. It’s not your job to know everything—nobody does.

If you don’t know, say so. And then ask.

#3: You second guess everything you do

When you can’t ask or answer questions, you have little confidence in yourself. Your anticipatory anxiety runs at an all-time high with “what if” thinking. “What if I do this, and that happens?” Initially, this can be great for planning, but you can’t get stuck there. You need to make a decision and move forward–to trust yourself and choose. Yes, sometimes you choose wrong, but that’s life.

First, know that most of the time, your anticipation is much worse than the actual situation. How many times have you worried yourself to the Nth degree and the outcome was far better than you imagined?

Anticipatory anxiety keeps you from taking chances that would improve your life.

Step through that wall of anticipatory anxiety! Get on the other side. Give yourself permission to feel anxious. Then, get in the present moment and ask yourself: what’s the next positive step I need to take to move myself forward? And do it!

Think of “what iffing” it this way, “What if I succeed?”–You won’t know until you try.

#4: You second guess what everyone else does

If you don’t trust yourself, it’s hard to trust others. This brings about huge control issues. People often think control freaks are strong—wrong. It’s a sign of weakness, of insecurity. So, stop it. Once again, you’re not only tormenting yourself, you’re tormenting your team. Stop hovering over them and not letting them do their thing.

We all bring something special to the table. No one is good in all areas of work—that’s why there are teams—to collaborate. Collaboration is the alloy that makes companies strong. It’s fine to ask and answer questions to monitor progress, but you must trust your team to do what they do best. That’s how you all grow and succeed.

#5: You have an excessive need for approval

If you feel victimized, manipulated or guilty often, then you are tormenting yourself by always needing approval from others. Anxiety runs high when you feel this way because you’re just too afraid of stepping on toes. You show people where your buttons are, with a big sign that says “Push!”

The most important approval you need is the approval you give yourself. I wrote about this in 10 Steps to Get Over the Impostor Syndrome. As a people pleaser, it’s easier to be compassionate to others, but not to yourself.

If you heard a close friend talk badly about him/herself, you would defend that person and say it’s not true. You would comfort the friend with kind and supportive words. You need to be able to do this for yourself. Speak to yourself as though you were speaking as if speaking to your own best friend. Be compassionate to yourself. Use those same convincing words and be supportive — to you.

#6: You suffer from the “terrible too’s”: too young, too old, too inexperienced, too forgetful, too tall, too short—you name it!

Often, when faced with change, we torment ourselves with the “terrible too’s.” We use self-criticism as an excuse to procrastinate and resist change. What we’re really saying is that we’re too afraid to leap because we’re too afraid to fail.

Your thoughts make up your reality. So, change the messaging in your mind. Get more positive in the way you think–especially about yourself.

Get confident: Ask and answer questions. Trust yourself and your team. Give yourself the support you need. Get out from under the “terrible too’s” and your excuses. One thing is for sure: It’s never too late to stop tormenting yourself and start enjoying your life!

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who has been helping businesses and professionals grow stronger and more successful for over three decades. More at and

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on March 5th, 2014 in Career, Global/Social Change, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

26 sep

Stressed Out? What’s in Your Coping Toolbox?

MaricleMariclePost25SeptHow Do You Cope with Stress?

Something my clients talk about a lot is how to cope with stress and anxiety. What does “coping” really mean? Coping is simply what we do, think, or feel that helps us deal with our feelings, without getting too overwhelmed. You already have a number of these skills that you use all the time, whether you think about it or not.

People who cope well with stress and change have a large “toolbox” of skills. Examples of skills might include:

• Telling yourself, “It’s not worth it,” instead of getting into an argument
• Seeking the positive in difficult situations (See a more detailed post here)
• Journaling
• Talking to a friend about your troubles
• Taking a walk to “cool off”

I like to think about having a coping toolbox. My toolbox is comprised of skills in two overlapping categories: self-care and coping skills.

Self-Care: Self-care is the time I dedicate to myself daily, whether alone or with someone else, in order to meet my basic needs, relax and have fun, or enrich or benefit myself in some way. I like to think about self-care as “useful selfishness.” Without taking care of myself, I have nothing to give.

Coping Skills: Coping skills are the techniques I use in the moment to relieve stress, anger, fear, or anxiety.

Taking Care of Myself

When I let my own self-care fall down on my priority list, it shows. I feel grumpy, snappy, and not my usual happy self. Self-care for me includes: running and exercise, talking with my husband, social time with friends and family, being goofy with my kids, making art or music, spending time with my dogs, cooking, and getting enough sleep.

Adequate coping skills also help me stay on an even-keel. Talking directly with someone about what is bothering me, looking for solutions to my problem, reframing a difficult situation in terms of the benefits it brings, running, making art, and journaling all help me deal with very difficult feelings.

Usually though, coping well with stress requires more than just good self-care or one good coping skill. We are complex and dynamic beings, and so our responses to our problems need to be too. Any one skill will probably help me feel a minimum of about 10% better, so I need to use a combination of good self-care and coping skills to cope effectively.

What’s in your toolbox?
Which tools work the best for you? Do you take a shower, go for a drive, dance, build things, or vent? What’s a sure sign that you are letting go of your self-care? Share your insights in the comments section. Thanks for reading and be well.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Amy Maricle on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

21 sep

Technology vs. Instinct and Common Sense: Are Smart Phones Making Us Stupid?

Kerrigan2I live in New York–one of the most fast-paced and exciting places in the world. It can also be one of the most dangerous places too. You need to be on your toes here, and aware of your surroundings. Otherwise, the consequences could be severe, even fatal.

However, one thing I’m noticing more and more lately is the rising addiction to smart phones, and people looking down, when they should be looking up. Smart phones are called that because of their technical capabilities. But are they harming our human capabilities? Our instinct and common sense?

I realized that, in the last month alone, I’ve seen 5 people almost get hit by bikes, cars, or taxis as they cross the streets in midtown, oblivious to the world around them.  And, recently, I read that the number of teens who are dying or being injured as a result of texting while driving is skyrocketing. In fact, texting is now surpassing drinking and driving as the prime hazard among that age group. And from what I see on the road, I can imagine the numbers are rising in adult accidents and fatalities too.

Then there’s another, less life-threatening , more career-threatening habit: Employees texting and tweeting while their bosses or company CEOs are speaking.  Or commenting on facebook when they should be working.

There are also the people dining out and gathering at bars everywhere, glued to their tiny screens and unaware of the life-sized action around them.  And, how many of us are so busy focusing on capturing a photo for facebook instead of actually experiencing and enjoying the moment? Just think of the last concert or public event you attended—did your smart phone make a guest appearance?

All this has led me to wonder:

Is all this reliance on technology endangering our lives?

Are we losing our ability to read a room and read the street? To hold a face-to-face conversation?  To listen and comprehend? Are our natural instincts, common sense and early warning devices being jeopardized by our handheld devices? Are we letting social media replace social grace, and distraction replace engagement, costing us our jobs, our friends, our experiences and our lives?

In other words: are our smart phones making us stupid?

Maybe it’s time to put the phones down, look up, and find out.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need for high performance and productivity.

Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in higher efficiency, improved leadership and teamwork, and stronger professional and revenue growth. Michelle also writes and speaks on the impact self esteem has on success, and produces a series for public TV, entitled Workplace Confidence. More at and

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on September 21st, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, Health, Personal Stories, Technology | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

15 sep

How to Heal Relationships: What’s Love Got to Do with It? Part Two

WEJMDWhen our relationships fail it is because we have made choices which are destructive and self-defeating. So caught up in our ego and our need to be right, we are blinded to the truth that love flourishes when we are compassionate, accepting, and forgiving. So what can we do about it?


When we are yelling at each other we are not effectively communicating. We are not listening to the other person’s point of view. There is no true dialogue. No meeting of the minds. No desire for a meeting of the minds. We are just trying to continually drive home our own point, our own grievance, our own sense of righteousness and our need for retribution.

This behavior is not merely a pointless waste of time. It is incredibly destructive to the relationship because basically all we’re doing is attacking and abusing each other. More to the point, we usually end up saying hurtful things we wish we hadn’t said, which turn into resentments, which get lodged in our partner’s heart where it can be very difficult to remove.

Consequently, the best thing to do when we’re yelling at each other is to stop yelling and disengage. We agree that we’re not being productive, that we should table the argument for a while, go our separate ways for a while, give each other some space for a while. We agree to re-engage in the disagreement at a later time when we’ve both cooled off, have had a chance to think about all the issues involved, and are prepared to calmly discuss, mediate and negotiate a peaceful resolution of the problem where both party’s needs will be taken into consideration.


When we are engaged in an argument we oftentimes respond to what we perceive as an attack with an attack. Out partner accuses us of some wrongdoing. We feel it is unjustified and not true. But usually the first thing that comes out of our mouth is: “That’s ridiculous!”… “You’re crazy!”… “There you go again!”… “Calm down!”… “You’re being hysterical!” … “Did you forget to take your medicine?!”… “Are you having your period?!”

We engage in all sorts of name-calling, shaming and blaming. It is all extremely invalidating to the other person. And it usually leads to them being infuriated, them responding with anger, aggression and name calling of their own, and an escalation from a potentially minor issue to World War III.

So here’s what we do: When we feel someone is unfairly accusing us of something, rather than immediately going to the default mode of “the best defense is a good offense,” we take a moment to think before we speak. And then we validate their feelings. We let them know we have listened to what they said. We have heard their complaint. We understand why they perceived the situation the way in which they did.

And then we soothe them as well. We take the time to remind them that we love them. We care about them. It is not our intention to hurt them in any way. Their feelings matter to us.

And then we counterpoint. We express our position, our perspective on what happened.

Here’s an example of the three part process: When our partner accuses us of doing something unloving, we might say, “I can understand why you thought I was being inconsiderate. I want you to know that I care about you and am concerned about your needs and your feelings. In this situation, when I said ________, what you heard was ________, but what I meant was ________. “

By first taking the time to validate and soothe them, they feel respected, they feel they have been heard, and they are much more likely to not get defensive and angry when we challenge their perceptions, and they are much more likely to be in a frame of mind where they can hear our position and calmly discuss and resolve the conflict.

By using these two techniques, a great deal of time once spent in emotionally exhausting and physically draining arguments can be re-directed into enjoyable and nurturing experiences which reaffirm our love and our commitment to our partner.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on September 15th, 2013 in Relationships | No comments Read related posts in ,

12 sep

How to Heal Relationships – Part One

WEJMDTruly loving, nurturing and sustainable relationships are not happening for a great many of us. The reasons for this have to do with our ego getting in the way, with our unwillingness to be more thoughtful, tolerant and considerate, with our unwillingness to rise above the battlefield, to release our anger and resentments from the past, to effectively communicate, to negotiate differences and to establish, maintain and respect boundaries.

I say unwillingness because although it may be difficult to do these things, we choose not to. Loving, sustainable relationships are not the result of accidents or luck, they are the result of healthy choices.

It’s profound the degree to which most of us treat strangers, acquaintances, co-workers and friends much better than we treat our loved ones. With our loved ones, we forget about being compassionate, generous, selfless, considerate, empathetic and loving. We take them for granted. We ridicule them. We shame them. We ignore their needs and invalidate their feelings. And then we complain that we don’t have the relationship that we want.

This isn’t tricky stuff. If we want to have a loving relationship, we need to be loving. If we want to be understood, we need to understand. If we want to be appreciated, we need to appreciate. If we want to be respected, we need to respect. If we want consideration, we need to be considerate. If we don’t want to be judged and shamed, we need to not judge and shame. If we want to be forgiven, we need to forgive.

We reap what we sow. It’s the Golden Rule and it works: When we treat others as we wish to be treated we tend to receive what we give. Our world gets better. Our relationships become more loving, more nurturing, more satisfying and more enduring.

So that’s the ticket: We choose to be generous. We choose to be grateful. We choose to be gracious. We don’t assume the worst. We give our partner the benefit of the doubt. When our partner says or does something that we feel is inconsiderate or unloving we don’t immediately assume they wanted to attack us and hurt us. We don’t immediately go into an aggressive attack mode.

We remind ourselves that in the past we have said and done things that were thoughtless, inconsiderate and unloving, and at those times we wanted our partner to understand, to tolerate our mistakes, to not hold it against us and to forgive us. And so this is what we choose to do with our partner. We accept, we tolerate, we overlook, we forgive.

We don’t need to turn every thoughtless word or action from our partner into a battlefield. We can choose to not sweat the small stuff. We can choose to remind ourselves that they love us, they care about us, they’re not trying to hurt us. We can let it go. We don’t have to make a big stink about it.

This ties into the idea of “Would you rather be right or happy?” Oftentimes, when we feel wronged, we become insistent about confronting our partner, getting in their face, demanding that they feel guilty and shamed, demanding that they own their transgression, demanding an apology. And it’s oftentimes over minor stuff. And it’s oftentimes over stuff that could be open to interpretation. For example, when we’re feeling insecure we are more likely to perceive an innocuous comment from our partner as an attack. And this prompts us to go into our attack mode.

When we go into our attack mode and insist that we are right and they are wrong, we are loving and they are not, we are cool and they are cruel, and that they need to capitulate and apologize for their horrible acts, this oftentimes causes greater polarization in the relationship, greater antagonism and resentment.

If we don’t get their capitulation, everyone is upset. If we do get their capitulation, oftentimes everyone is still upset because of all the fighting that preceded it. Point being: If we insist on getting an acknowledgment that we are right, we usually end up not being happy. If we decide to stop needing to prove that we are right and instead choose our battles and choose to not make mountains out of molehills, we end up being happy. Isn’t that the whole point of having a relationship in the first place?

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Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on September 12th, 2013 in Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

02 aug

When Negative = Positive

MaricleHow Negative Thoughts Can Lead to Success

You wish you could make a change, but feel stuck. How do you move forward? One way is to tune into your doubts and negative thoughts. We don’t do this very often. Most of us get stuck in a cycle of criticism, “What an idiot. I did it again,” or we make excuses: “I’m just not that kind of person.” Periodically that inner voice that believes in us might speak up and say, “Wow, you could do that!” but once we hear that inner doubt, we get discouraged, and give up.

Rather than begrudging these negative thoughts, why not invite them to say more? Find out what’s driving all this negativity. When you say you “meant to eat better,” one part of you is on board, but another is not. (Hence the empty box of donut holes on your desk.) So what do those negative thoughts have to say?

Write it out:
Sit down with paper and pen (or computer if that’s your style). To get yourself internally focused and centered, close your eyes, take a few moments to breathe deeply, and focus on your breath.

1. In one sentence, write down the change you want to make. If there were no boundaries, and anything was possible, what would you do?
2. Now write down all the negative thoughts that come up in response to that idea on the left side of your paper. (i.e. You don’t have time. You won’t do a good job. You aren’t attractive enough.)
3. On the right side of your paper: Each statement conveys a belief about yourself and the world? What is it? Can you challenge these beliefs?
4. Looking at the right column, do you see any valid roadblocks? How can you address them? Start brainstorming and researching how others do it.
5. If you have concluded that the negative voice is just speaking out of fear of failure, rejection, or not being good enough: What would it look like if you asked this part to take a back seat and let the positive part(s) take action?

How I Used Negativity to My Advantage
For years I had fantasized about having a private therapy practice – a large art studio where folks could come to explore the contents of their hearts with humor and grace. However, as someone who thrived working as part of a team, I was anxious about a solo practice. I vacillated between visions of feeling fulfilled, independent, and effective with clients, and seeing myself feeling dazed and overwhelmed. This was my problem: part of me saw myself as the “type of person” to have a private practice, and part of me did not.

When I began to entertain the idea of starting my own business, I knew that in order to move forward, I needed to explore my doubts and negative thoughts. Using the questions above, I defined some key roadblocks and came up with creative ways to clear the path to success.

I realized that feeling “alone” was my biggest concern. A key part of my research into building a private practice was identifying how to build contact with other professionals. I joined two local clubs, subscribed to professional blogs, signed up for weekly clinical supervision, set up regular peer supervision meetings, and began inviting other professionals to networking lunches. I have been surprised by how satisfying all this is, and how much I enjoy the time I am working “alone.” Without having tuned into those negative voices, I would not have cleared these obstacles and would never have had the courage to pursue my dream.

Have you surprised yourself recently by reaching a goal you never thought you would? Has tuning into a doubting voice helped you get un-stuck? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Amy Johnson Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is a psychotherapist and art therapist in Foxboro, MA. She loves helping teens and adults find ways to live happier, healthier, and smarter. You can find out more at:

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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Posted by Amy Maricle on August 2nd, 2013 in New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

01 aug

How to Stop the Self-conscious Strikeout and Hit a Career Home Run

Kerrigan2As many of my readers know, I recently started filming a local TV series called Workplace Confidence.

It’s been quite a learning curve and a test of confidence, with a few self-conscious fast balls thrown in.

First, there’s having to open the show on cue, and trying to sound relaxed. Hearing “30 seconds to go” and then seeing the silent cue “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and a finger pointing straight at me (with a red light flashing) signaled my first time up at bat. Talk about anticipatory anxiety?! I did OK, but was so scared of forgetting my lines, that it felt forced and uncomfortable.

Strike one.

Then, there’s me, seeing and hearing myself on the playback, and thinking, “God—my nose is huge (and too shiny),” “I sound so nasal and New Yawk-y,” and “Thank heavens this show is only on local public TV.” My fear of my next show was already growing.

Strike two.

Next, there’s the criticism and the comments. My mom: “Gee—you’re dressed in all black. It looks so harsh.” My studio manager: “You have to watch those crutch words, like ‘you know’.” And, my close friend: “Well, you’re better than Honey Boo Boo.”

Strike three! I can’t do this show. I’m out!

It’s at times like these that, if we’re not careful, our overly-conscious selves can throw us off—and possibly out—of our game. It’s good to be aware, but when we overdo it, we’re aiming our bat at our self esteem and not at the ball that’s coming straight at us.

In other words, we’re so focused on the fear that we lose the moment. And, that’s where we really need to be.

I’m reminded of the late, great, sports psychologist, Harvey Dorfman, who helped baseball legends address fear by being and doing more in the present and talking and thinking less about the past or future.

He understood how self consciousness could really screw up performance, and even had to help baseball pros dress in the locker room when they were frozen in anticipatory fear.

Dorfman felt the vast majority of issues players had to face came from getting ahead of themselves in game situations, causing feeling to interfere with function. His mantra was “see the ball, hit the ball.”

He said that the tendency of the eyes to move ahead of objects they are tracking could lead to an over swing by the batter, as he over thinks, gets ahead of himself, and loses focus on where the ball actually is.

This doesn’t just happen to professional baseball players. This happens to all of us as well.

If we allow ourselves to be too self conscious, we’re too busy feeling instead of doing. We get ahead of ourselves with too much anticipatory anxiety and miss the moment.

I remembered this the next time I entered the TV studio, and as I opened the show, I got in the moment. I didn’t get ahead of myself. I focused on what I was doing and nothing else. No comments, no criticism, no fear.

The studio manager told me afterwards that he was shocked at how strong I sounded as I came up to the plate.

I saw the ball and hit the ball. I stopped being too self conscious. And no matter what anyone else thinks—including me—it was a home run.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps corporate and private clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need to improve their performance and productivity. Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change and solving day-to-day challenges. Michelle also writes and speaks on the impact self esteem has on success, and produces a series for public TV, entitled Workplace Confidence. More at and

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on August 1st, 2013 in Career | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,