We All Have Trauma​

Kind of buries the lede with the title, huh? Let’s talk trauma! Couple of reasons, first, it keeps coming up in session. I never write a blog about a singular client or client concern, but when a topic keeps coming up with many different clients, or has come up regularly over the years, then I think having it in writing can be helpful. Second, I’m getting my certification in Religious Trauma (woot!), so it’s very much fresh in my mind as a topic right now. And the conversation that I keep having with people goes something like this: I say, “Well, that’s because trauma changes the way your brain is wired.” And my client responds, “But I don’t have trauma.” And here’s the thing, we all have trauma.

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What If Your Partner Is Just the Worst?

Sometimes clients come in and they spend a majority of the session just venting about what a real dingbat their partner has been. Or how selfish that person is, or how they went out and spent a bunch of money without talking about it first. And while I do the good therapist bit of nodding appropriately and commiserating on what a chore it is to be in a relationship with that person, I often find it necessary to work through some uncomfortable realities in these situations. Namely, how your partner is just the dirt worst.

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A Primer on Holiday Stress

We have a battle going on in my house that reflects society at large: the early creep of holiday decorations. It used to be no Christmas tree before Thanksgiving, now the battle begins before Halloween. My wife has even corrupted our four-year-old who has been asking to set up the tree more than he’s been asking for his Halloween candy. So far, I’ve held strong, but it doesn’t look promising. So as I prepare myself for Christmas music everywhere and holiday lights up in the house before Thanksgiving, I thought I would do a quick rundown on ways to preemptively deal with holiday stress.

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Finding Time to Connect

“But I don’t have time for that” is one of the most common obstacles clients share with me in making improvements in their relationship. I would anecdotally say it’s probably about 90% of my couples highlight this as an ongoing issue. Here’s the thing: there is no secret. No shortcut, no way around it. We all have busy lives, for any number of reasons, and almost none of them are worth the strife of having relationship issues. So, how do you find the time to connect when it seems you don’t have any?

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Using Your Body as a Coping Mechanism

I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating, your mental health and your physical health are connected. Turns out that because your brain is located inside your head, your mental well-being is directly related to your physical well-being. This can be a bit troublesome, as it makes it hard to know if physical/mental ailments are causes or symptoms of some other part of your body, but it also can be super helpful when you learn how to use your body as a healthy coping mechanism to soothe your mind. 

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A Note About Quackery

Against my better judgment, I often find myself perusing the internet. YouTube is my bugaboo, as I love to have video essays on while I do other work, but occasionally I’ll get distracted on Instagram or even just my Google News feed. I’m consistently amazed at how much bad information is out there. Like, I shouldn’t be surprised, obviously, given the past 3 years of pandemic living and our society’s less-than-stellar response. But I’m surprised that I’m seeing it.

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Grind Culture

“I got six jobs, I don’t get tired” Kevin Gates sings in one of his early songs. And while Kevin Gates is problematic for a number of reasons, that song was a banger when it came out. It hits on a theme prevalent in a lot of hip-hop, and in our culture as a whole. That if you work hard, like really, really (get it?) hard, then you will get ahead. It kind of makes sense for those at the top to want to put out a narrative about how all their hard work paid off, but it simply isn’t true. So, where does this myth come from? And what do we do about it?

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Why It’s So Hard To Have Healthy Boundaries

I don’t think there is a topic I cover more in therapy than boundaries. I don’t always address it as a boundary issue, and clients don’t always bring it up as a boundary issue, but so many other topics that come up in therapy are, at their core, about boundaries. Work-life balance? That’s boundaries. Communication within a relationship? Boundaries. Struggling with self-care? Boundaries again!

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Let’s Talk About Sex

Sex and money are the most common issues that get couples into therapy. Typically not because people have too much of either (therapy jokes aren’t great, I’m aware). But the reality is, not enough people talk about sex, and from Freud to Cosmo magazine, the people who are talking about it are often talking nonsense. So strap in (or on!) and let’s talk penises, vaginas, orgasms, facts, fictions, and how there is no normal!

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ADHD Isn’t a Superpower

Another day, another poorly written article about ADHD as a superpower. It’s a lovely reframe, and a nice way to try to not put down neurodiversity, but it just isn’t true. Neurodiversity is great! Normal doesn’t exist! I’m here for all of that, but I also want realistic expectations to be set for people who may be struggling.

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Why I Hate Compromise

I’m going to break some conventions here, but, despite being a therapist, I’m a fairly opinionated person. I know there’s this idea out there that therapists nod politely and ask “how does that make you feel?” That style has never really fit for me, though, either personally or professionally. I’ve got strong opinions on books, movies, and why Pink Floyd being the best band of all time isn’t actually an opinion, it is a provable fact (I am sometimes prone to hyperbole on less significant topics).

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Quiet Quitting

Can we stop talking about quiet quitting? It’s not a thing. I try not to be particularly trendy or get too soap-boxey about pop culture in this blog, but I can’t escape newsfeed articles and YouTube clips about all this nonsense. So, let’s talk about what this supposedly is all about, then dive into what toxic culture is underneath it, and what to do about it (other than ignore it, which is an option).

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A Happy Brain

Keeping our brain happy can go a long way in having better mental health. While we generally associate our mental health with our brain, the reality is our brain is just another part of our body. It’s an important part, one of the single most influential parts of our body, but it is still just part of the overall machine that makes us work. So, taking care of that central core processor is a good idea, and since our brain is part of our body, what it needs to be happy is pretty simple because it goes hand-in-hand with what our body needs.

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How To Get the Most Out of Therapy

So this post follows from last week’s post about who should go to therapy, kind of a two-parter that I split up. So, you’re in therapy or you’ve convinced your friend/family member/crazy cat-lady neighbor that they need to go therapy. Good job, you’re doing it! But unfortunately way too many people are getting a less than stellar experience in therapy.

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Who Should Go To Therapy?

Everyone.

If I was a bolder writer I would just end the post there. Everyone should go to therapy. Full stop. A therapist saying everyone should go to therapy is kind of obvious, Elon Musk would say everyone should get a Tesla, but I think there are valid reasons why people should go to therapy, and I think having a good idea on why you should go will help you have a better experience.

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Who Are You Attracting?

Birds of a feather flock together, but also, opposites attract? Both of these axioms have wide-spread use in our culture, either as cute cliches or as thematic elements in popular media. Given that there is no huge culture war waging on which of these is more accurate, I’m going to hazard a guess that most people are comfortable accepting that both can be true given a certain context.

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It’s Just A Bummer​

My dog died this weekend. He wasn’t just my dog, he loved everyone and was a huge part of our family, but he was very much my dog in the sense that he was the dog I always wanted. I wasn’t allowed to have dogs growing up, based on a factually-sketchy claim that my dad had pet dander allergies, so when my wife and I got married I got to have my first dog.

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Bad Boundary Advice

I have ADHD, so writing these blogs always takes a bit of meandering to get started. While procrastinating I was scrolling on Instagram and saw a post by a therapist (I did not actually verify the credentials, someone who markets themself as a therapist) that went something like this: Are you writing your partner another long text? Stop! Think first.

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It’s Not All in Your Head

One of the weirder blindspots I think therapists have is a lack of training around physical ailments. Medical doctors have some training on mental health issues, but it is odd, to put it mildly, how our healthcare system has decided that mental health and physical health are separate subjects.

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Meaning Making

Meaning is relational. Our understanding, our basis of knowledge, all of our knowledge, is based on a certain context, specifically, the context of the life we have lived. That sounds wilder than it is. We can’t know things if we haven’t crossed paths with those things in our lifetime.

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What’s Your Blueprint?

Why do some people date the same type of person over and over again? Why do some of our families have the same dramatic interactions at every family gathering? Why do kids raised in unstable environments often make the same unhealthy choices when they grow up?

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Setting Realistic Expectations

One of the most common mental hang-ups I work with is feeling discouraged due to having unrealistic expectations. This can take a lot of forms, and is a tricky problem because most of us were never taught how to set expectations. Rather, we have an accumulation of life experiences and cultural “norms” that leave us with loose, amorphous ideas of what we *should* be doing.

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Do Date Nights Really Matter?

Ah, date night. It either makes your heart flutter with romantic thoughts or makes you roll your eyes. I’ll say it right away: date night won’t save your relationship if it’s in need of saving. But, date night can help your relationship no matter what state it is in.

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Goal Setting When You Feel Stuck​

When dealing with ongoing stressors in our life, many of us get a sense of feeling stuck. This sense of spinning wheels is related to any number of mental and physical ailments, and even our stress-relieving activities and hobbies can get mired down into this directionless dread. Goal setting can be an incredibly helpful tool when we feel this way, as it allows our brain to organize abstract thoughts and gain a sense of control of what may feel very much out of our control.

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How to Heal After Leaving a Toxic Relationship

Relationships are hard. Pretty controversial take to start off this post. Having a healthy relationship is hard, maintaining multiple relationships with a partner, friends, family, and have a healthy work/life balance? Crazy hard, and the reality is, somewhere in all the complex relationships we maintain in our life, we’re bound to have an unhealthy one.

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