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Juggling Act ~ How to Get What You Need From Others

Juggling Act ~ How to Get What You Need From Others

Hi there! I was thinking about something today that I thought might interest you. In my practice I get a lot of questions about relationship issues. It makes sense. Those of us who have experienced problems handling emotions have learned early on various methods of getting our needs met. Sometimes this works in the short term. It may even work with certain people in our lives for quite a while. But sometimes we may begin to lose friends or feel like we are irritating to people. When it’s really bad, our siblings may even start screening our calls!

That’s sounds funny, but it happens, and it’s hurtful. There is a concept that is part of Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills that I teach to my clients that really helps. I ask them to keep three balls in the air at once.


What is my objective in this conversation? Is it to ask someone to do something for me or say no to him or her about something they want from me? Knowing my objective ahead of time will help me stay on track in the conversation. You know as well as I do how people can take us on rabbit trails. They can say something like, “Well, three weeks ago you did something similar,” and off we go. Soon we forget what it was that we wanted or needed to say.


What do I want this relationship to look like after this conversation? Is this person important to me? Do I want them to continue to like/respect/love/want to hang out with me?  Sometimes we are dealing with someone we don’t even like. We may not care if we ever see them again. If that’s the case, we don’t need to be as careful.


We may not need to be as careful if we don’t care as much about the relationship, but we still need to be respectful and think about how we want to view ourselves after the conversation ends. Heaping guilt onto ourselves is not going to help anything or anybody. We want to treat others as we wish to be treated.

Then we can walk with our head held high.

What is the hardest part about relationships for you? Do you have trouble in romantic relationships? Is it boundary issues? Do you feel misunderstood? Do you feel you may have social anxiety? Email me and I’ll write more about your topic.

Mindfulness can also help. We begin to slow down the reaction time and think about what we are doing in the moment. For some quick mindfulness tips you can use anywhere, click here to download your free copy of my latest e-book, The Mindfulness Toolkit: 10 Quick Tips to Reboot Your Brain on the Fly. And for more tips, sign up for my free newsletter.



4 (highly researched) New Years Resolutions for 2014

4 (highly researched) New Years Resolutions for 2014

New Years List2If you are a fan of Facebook, then it may seem to you as if everyone starts out the new year with one or two resolutions. A lot of folks seem to be talking about what they want to do differently starting January 1. But, according to time management firm Franklin Covey, statistics show that most people do not carry out their resolutions. In fact, one third of those who start out strong will have stopped this new activity by February.

One reason for this is that most people are not explicit about their goals. They haven’t verbalized them to family or friends, and they have not written them down. It’s just too easy to forget. I’m wondering too if the goal just wasn’t the kind that would make any real change in their life, so they gave up.

My own resolutions for 2014 didn’t include adding something; they included letting go of some things. You see I had been pushing myself so hard (and if you read my last post, you know exactly what I mean by that), that I had to resolve to stop some of my activities, or at least slow them down.

But that’s all right. I am still moving forward. I accept where I am at while continuing to move towards change (that’s called a dialectic). No judgment allowed.

All this talk about resolutions got me thinking about you, and whether or not you have added any New Years resolutions to what may already be a full plate.

If not, I’ve got a suggestion for you. I am going to offer four resolutions that, according to decades of research, will help you build a life worth living. That’s certainly more intriguing than just having a better year in 2014 than you did in 2013! Here they are:

  •  1. Gaining more control over your thought life.
  • 2. Not being as impulsive when you are feeling like you’re having a crisis.
  • 3. Gaining more control over your emotions.
  • 4. Developing healthier relationships with others.

Wow…those seem like very overwhelming resolutions, don’t they? How would one even start working on any of that?

That’s where I come in. These goals are part of a system of skills called Dialectical Behavior Skills (DBT Skills). They have been highly researched and are effective for those of us unfortunate enough to be a) born with a highly reactive brain b) suffered trauma and neglect in childhood c) both a and b and maybe much more.

The skills are simple, but they need to be exercised as if you are building up your muscles at the gym. The more you work out, the better you get. The better you get, the brighter your life becomes.

I am going to be writing about these skills here on the blog in all of 2014 and beyond. Check back often, or better yet, sign up for automatic updates. An online course that helps you systematically learn the skills as well as interact with others in a private Facebook group page is coming soon (hey, we’re all in this together). I’ll let you know as soon as that’s available. I’m working hard to make it very special and fun.

Marsha Linehan, researcher and developer of dialectical behavior therapy, would say these skills help you “build a life worth living.” I happen to agree, and again, if you’ve read my last blog post, you know why (wink).

In the meantime, take good care of you!


Did you make any New Years resolutions? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s be part of the conversation!

Out Of Control ~ Part 1

Out Of Control ~ Part 1


Why Feelings Can Be A Force To Be Reckoned With

Have you ever wondered why it seems some people react quicker than other people? Maybe you recognize that this is a problem for you. Or have you ever noticed it seems to take longer to calm back down than you have seen others do? Have you struggled with anger, or even rage? Are you more fearful than others around you or do you feel sad much of the time? Have you used unhealthy methods of coping with your feelings, such as substance abuse, self-harm (like cutting or burning) or other addictive behavior? Have you thought, “I just want to be normal?” Do you just want to enjoy life again?

Get Me Off This Ride!

Well, that is exactly the way I used to think. My emotions seemed to go up and down like a roller coaster, and whoever seemed to be at the controls (because I certainly didn’t think it was me!) didn’t seem to care what I wanted to feel like. Thankfully, I figured out where the handbrake was located and started using it (Hint: It was in my brain). In this four-part series, I’ll talk about what makes those of us with feelings that seem “over the top” feel and act the way we do. In this first post, let’s talk a little bit about the brain.

What Does My Brain Have To Do With Anything?

Some individuals are born with highly reactive emotional brains. Because of genetics or something that happens in the womb during pregnancy, we may be born as highly sensitive children.

I was one of those kids. Shy, fearful…I wouldn’t even venture out to play with my classmates. I hung on my kindergarten teacher’s skirts as if my life depended on it. For some reason, my brain was always telling me that I was in a dangerous situation. I didn’t seem to have a whole lot of resiliency.

Once that fear response was activated in my brain, it took a long time to calm down again. Someone else may calm as soon as they see there is no danger but I walked around in a state of high arousal for much of the time. Saber-toothed tigers lurked around every corner.

Due to neglect and traumatic events in my own life, my emotional responses quickly spiraled out of control. What has happened in your life? Genetics? A difficult childhood? Both? If so, can we do anything to change the way we react to our own emotions? Can we build a life worth living?

 So Can We Reckon With Our Own Brains?

Yes! Science now tells us that the brain can be changed.  Through something called neuroplasticity, we can actually cooperate with our brain to increase resiliency and stop playing second fiddle to our own emotions. According to authors Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley, using meditation or mindfulness, and cognitive behavior therapy can improve positive emotions and build greater resiliency. Dialectical Behavior Therapy, with its focus on mindfulness and becoming more aware of connections between thoughts and emotions, may be just the ticket to help bring about a greater control of out of control feelings. We can build skills and feel better.

This site is dedicated to providing you with information and tools to help you do just that. Stay tuned as I turn our attention to the areas in our lives that out of control emotions can affect, and how DBT can target each area.

To read the complete article by Davidson and Begley in Newsweek Magazine, go to The Daily Beast online at (Click here).