Unconscious Assumptions

Recently I happened upon a TV show about an animal behaviorist who helped people understand issues they were having with their pets. Interestingly, she spent most of her time helping clients recognize the reflexive meanings they unconsciously (and frequently, incorrectly) attribute to their pets’ actions. The most interesting example was … Read More

Gratitude and Dissatisfaction

It can be difficult to listen to someone express dissatisfaction with an open mind. Instead of receiving the comments as a reflection of someone else’s feelings, we insert ourselves into the mix, imbuing their comments with accusation and expectation and responding with defensiveness. Rather than risk criticism, we act quickly to shut … Read More

Great Expectations


Expectations are a frequent topic of conversation with my clients. Whether we are aware of them or not, our expectations have a tremendous influence on the way we interpret the people and the world around us. Most of the discussions in my office focus on the ways that expectations can … Read More

Rationalization is Unhealthy


Over the past few months, I’ve written about a number of defense mechanisms and the important role they play in human interaction. Defense mechanisms reflect the mind’s brilliantly creative approach to protecting itself. While each of them can be effective in different situations, I freely admit that rationalization is my … Read More

Decision Making with Distractions


Thanks to technology, travel, and education, we live in a world of almost endless possibilities. We have access to opportunities and experiences that previous generations couldn’t have even imagined. However, it’s also easier than ever to lose focus, to lose valuable time simply sorting through our options. It can feel … Read More

Comfort, Presence and Grief

Responding to another person’s grief can be incredibly difficult, not because we don’t care, but because we simply don’t know what to do. Often, that’s because there isn’t much that we actually can do. We can’t change the death of a loved one or alter a devastating medical diagnosis. Given … Read More

Words: Beyond Sticks and Stones


You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” I appreciate the spirit of the maxim, the refusal to give credence to critical, spiteful, thoughtless speech. The problem is, it’s not true. Scientific studies, legislation regarding hate speech and even … Read More

Trust Part 3: Indicators of the Trait


Trust is essential but, all too often, a rare commodity in many relationships. In previous blogs, we’ve discussed various impediments to trust, the frequent difficulty recognizing them, and ways to recognize some common substitutes. Recognizing things that undermine trust is incredibly helpful, but knowing what doesn’t work is only part … Read More

Trust: Part 2 – Masquerading Substitutes


In a previous blog, I discussed impediments to trust. One of the greatest impediments to developing trust is that we are often unaware that we are struggling with issues of it. We become so adept at co-opting other behaviors into service, backfilling our deficits with less risky options, that it’s difficult … Read More

Trust: Part 1 – Possible Impediments


Most people readily agree that trust is an essential component of healthy relationships. But it can be a difficult concept to grasp, particularly if we’ve had limited exposure to healthy, trusting relationships. Ideally, trust embodies an optimistic watchfulness, the willingness to gauge trustworthiness on the observation of peoples’ values in … Read More