Relax! The Case for Taking It Easy as a Path to Mental Wellness

Therapy is hard work. It’s so much more that talking about your problems with the fantasy that at some point, they’re just going to go away! If you don’t have the skill set for recovery, for catching your breath, for resting the body that produces thought, you’re probably wise to stay on the surface and out of that body. But you won’t heal. That’s what twenty years and over a thousand clients have taught me. The path to your healing begins with the ability to find your ease. Relax. Continue Reading Relax! The Case for Taking It Easy as a Path to Mental Wellness

Stress 101: Boundaries, Part 2

Trauma deeply impacts our sense of personal territory. Do we have a right to territory? What does it take to keep myself safe within that territory? If I feel an alert, should I mention it, because I might hurt someone else’s feelings? Because for me, and in my experience, our boundaries physically mark the beginning of what constitutes “us,” they are not merely a concept, and in becoming more embodied, less dissociative, we are more able to feel physically when someone is crossing those boundaries and entering what we sense as our personal space. Continue Reading Stress 101: Boundaries, Part 2

Stress 101: Resourcing…Finding the Lip of the Pool Before You Dive Deep

It was an awful day. I was young, barely employed as a door-to-door salesperson for cable (and really, who can’t sell cable! me!!!), and had just gotten my umpteenth rejection. The world reeked of malaise and despair… then I looked up, at the most wonderful evening sky. The skies in New Mexico are special, of… Continue Reading Stress 101: Resourcing…Finding the Lip of the Pool Before You Dive Deep

Stress 101 Essentials: Grounding

You can’t think grounding, you’ve got to feel it. Imagine that your body is a live wire, downed by some horrible Nor’easter. Sparks flying all over the place! Trauma has that effect, so much overwhelming and unpleasant energy coursing sharply and erratically through our bodies that we can practically smell the sizzle, or on the other hand, past the sizzle and well into burn-out. Grounding works like the third prong on a plug, or the post at the end of the wire…it absorbs some of the excess energy that would otherwise lead to shorting out. Continue Reading Stress 101 Essentials: Grounding

Stress 101: What You Need to Know On Your Journey

When clients come to me for trauma work, sooner or later they find themselves mourning the loss of safety. Before whatever horrible event happened that brought them in to see me, they had it. A sense of what it is to be safe, or at least safe-enough, that allowed them to get through the day without feeling the need for eyes in the backs of their heads, or that constant spidey-sense that clinicians call “hypervigilence.” It happens in a shocking instant; before that moment, they did not question that they would be able to get through life without major wounds, other than the usual rules of discretion and environmental awareness: don’t walk at night alone, don’t trust the guy who can’t look you in the eyes,etc . And why not? Most people, after all, do seem to get through. After that instance, the terrible “aha,” we understand now that safety is an illusion, that despite due diligence, shit does happen. Usually it’s a mundane moment, perhaps the one where they come out of shock, look around, and realize they are now seeing life with different eyes. In that moment, so much dies. Their faith, their hope, their confidence in themselves that goes along with the lingering and self-serving delusion, “surely I could have done things differently, then this would not have happened.” Self-serving, because none of us is that powerful. Continue Reading Stress 101: What You Need to Know On Your Journey

Elliot Rodger: A Cautionary Tale

While everyone is talking about gun control, can we take it to a deeper level? Our boys, and the men they become, are in trouble. While Rodgers, and Holmes etc before him, are extremes, our males are at risk, from puberty on, in continued discouragement around developing more “feminine” qualities that allow for satisfying intimacy, relationally and not merely sexually. And those who do are likely to be the main object of interest for the school bully. Continue Reading Elliot Rodger: A Cautionary Tale

Money Stress: How Growing Up Without Effects Our Relationship With Money Now

That trauma shows up in my office, among those who rationally know they have plenty, but are constantly driven by a sense of never having enough. By those who are miserable in their jobs but terrified at even manageable risk factors in pursuing, instead, work more satisfying to them and more helpful to the world. By those compulsively resist opening their ledgers, looking up their account balance, or in any way checking their goals against the realities of their current finances. When you’re raising a family, or closing in on retirement, that becomes a huge problem. Continue Reading Money Stress: How Growing Up Without Effects Our Relationship With Money Now

Trauma: Help In Understanding

Imagine, if you will, standing on the very top of the highest peak of a great mountain. All around you, the most magnificent view. Yet, you find yourself only able to look down, in all directions, the precarious slope, falling away in all directions to certain death. Wouldn’t you become rigid with terror, afraid to… Continue Reading Trauma: Help In Understanding

Valentine’s Day: Love and Sacrifice

It’s Valentine’s Day, and either you’re going on a date, staying in with your beloved (?), bemoaning the lack thereof, or oblivious. Because Valentine’s Day is for lovers, right? Wrong! Well, at least not always. Until the 14th century and Goeffrey Chaucer, it celebrated a multitude of saints and the value of sacrifice. In the… Continue Reading Valentine’s Day: Love and Sacrifice