Category Archives: assumptions

The Nice and Not-So-Nice Therapist: Who is Really Nicer?

NICE ?

How nice should a therapist be?

Nice. Someone pleasant, agreeable.  “He’s such a nice guy,” we say, imagining someone good natured, kind-hearted.  Or  exacting, evidencing great skill:  “Nicely done!”  Or scrupulous, exacting, hard to please:  “Give me a nice piece of corned beef” – which really means “give me your best cut, extra lean!  Nice can mean trivial, easily dismissed: “that’s nice, but”  or treading carefully, behaving delicately: “be nice to your cousin!”  And then there’s making nice, acting as if one were feeling all those good things, somewhat hypocritally.  Oh, and the ironic nice, a nice that means not nice at all:that’s a nice way to say thank you!”

How can one word mean such different – even antithetical – things?  Its origin provides hints.  Originally Middle English, it meant stupid or foolish, deriving from the Latin nescius ignorant, by way of French.  It meant coy, reserved, and by the 16th century fastidious, later still  fine, subtle (considered by some the ‘correct’ sense, and on to the current pleasant, agreeable.

What happens when conflict and confrontation-avoidance masquerade as being nice?  When does acting nice not only not equal being or feeling nice, but actually serve as a cover for feelings that are anything but nice?  When is being nice a cop-out for not dealing with the difficult and messy – but important – stuff?

Which brings us to the question of the day:  Exactly how nice should your therapist be? How nice is therapeutic?

Therapy’s not about appearance, but substance.  And when it comes to the therapy experience,  there’s often a difference between nice and helpful.

If the therapist’s prime motivation is to be liked, well, then, she’s got to act nice to be seen as, thought of, as nice.  When being nice is crucial, gratifying the patient is crucial,  first and foremost, pretty much always.  Even if it means avoiding the tough stuff; especially if it means avoiding the tough stuff that doesn’t feel so, well, nice

But if the therapist’s prime motivation is to promote learning – to provide tools for a better life, to help her patient become all s/he can be, to heal – real trumps nice every day of the week.  It may not always feel nice.   But if your therapist  goes beyond skin-deep nice, if together you do more than scratch the surface – explore and understand and accept what’s real – you’ve got a shot at goodReal good.  Which has a whole lot more healing power than some ironic nice.

Copyright © 2012 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

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Dr. P’s Pithy Adages & Epigrams

Bridges:  Tips For Knowing How to Cross Over – and When to Let ’em Burn*

A hypothesis:  What is “obvious” seldom is.   “It’s obvious that she thinks________ ” usually means “I assume – and am now convinced – that she thinks_______.” More often than not, my conviction of the obvious truth is not true at all.  In fact, the stronger my conviction that something you feel or think “obviously” means whatever I am certain it means, the more it’s likely to tell you about me, rather than you. What do you think?  Does this ring true to you?

Here’s the thing:   Inertia isn’t going to get you anywhere you want to go.

The assumption: Everyone thinks the way you do. Or, if they don’t, they should.  Nope.  They don’t.

Nodding your head in agreement as you look someone in the eye, all the while waiting your turn to speak, is not the same thing as listening.  No matter how politely you smile, how patiently you point yourself in his direction.

It’s funny how people rewrite history, isn’t it?  And it’s generally to suit not only what they wish had happened, but who they wish they had been.

Few things in life take more courage than facing the truth about oneself.

If you don’t get your point across the first time, you can say it again, louder. If that doesn’t work, louder still.  Then louder, again.                                                     Or you can try another approach that might actually work…

Who are you when no one is looking?

Before you blow off a problem, make sure it won’t come ‘round and whack you in the back of the head when you least expect or can afford to deal with it.

You might as well forget the first clause of any sentence the second clause of which begins “, but…” 

For the person listening to you, suggesting “it’s just a little ______” doesn’t minimize the attendant issue, it minimizes him.  Not good.

You don’t get to decide someone else’s “no big deal.”

Your partner knows that your “I understand” sometimes really means “I’ve had enough.”

Haste may make waste, but beware of lingering too long at the fair…

It doesn’t cost extra to be kind.  And patience isn’t a waste of time.

Sometimes the only thing you know is what doesn’t work.  It’s a good idea then to try just about anything else…

Anything real and alive is flawed in some way.  Perfect is Disneyland: beautiful surface, but there’s no there there.

There’s power that derives from position.  There’s the power that derives from influence.  There’s power that derives from instilling fear.  There’s power that derives from controlling resources.  There’s power that derives from force.  There’s power that derives from expertise.  There’s power that derives from personality.  There’s power that derives from coalitions.  There’s power that derives from respect.  There’s power that derives from moral authority…

When you push down the bad feelings, lots of the good ones get pushed down, too.

If you have to tell someone “it’s obvious,” it isn’t.

Resolve it, don’t dissolve it.

You can be right or you can be a working team…

~ Copyright © 2011 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

*~ Paro

 

A Happiness Meditation

And this, from my dear friend, my wise friend, Fiamma Arditi,
Director, journalist at Senza Frontiere film festival:
The Chemical Reaction Within

“Happiness belongs to those who are easily contented.”
— Aristotle

Here’s a gentle reminder that Happiness is a state within us.  It is a chemical reaction based on where we put our focus, and from which perspective we choose to experience the world.

We are the ones who hold the key to lasting happiness. And we are the only ones who can deprive ourselves of the happiness that we all desire and deserve.

Sometimes, all it takes is a whisper of gratitude, to draw our focus back to our hearts and away from the discontentment and negativity that our minds are naturally attracted to.

This past Christmas, I took on the responsibility of cooking for our extended family. And when I was in the kitchen, preparing the food, I found my mind wandering off, thinking about negative things, thinking about things to complain about, thinking about certain people who made me upset.

I caught myself doing it, and was alarmed by the negative feeling it drew into my inner space.

And then I started to consciously redirect my attention towards being thankful. It was like a game.

As I was chopping vegetables, I would say –sometimes verbally- “I am so thankful that I have the resources to buy vegetables. I am so thankful for this knife, without it would be difficult to cut vegetables.” Standing at the sink, I would say, “I am so thankful that I have water. I am so thankful for this beautiful sink. It’s so useful and cool looking.”

Going to the fridge to get the ingredients for the next thing I was cooking, I’d say, “I am so thankful I have a fridge. I am so thankful for the fridge full of food.” Standing over the stove, “I am so thankful for this pot. I am so thankful for the beautiful gas stove, it has provided so much for our family’s needs. I love that it’s stainless steel and black.”

When I dropped something on the floor, as I picked it up, I would admire the beautiful wood floor, which we never take the time to appreciate, “I am so thankful for the wood floor, I love the red tint it reflects.” And as I am saying this, I would be reminded, “I am so thankful for this house. A house with all the characteristics we once dreamed about, and it became a reality. Thank you Universe for always watching out for my needs and always fulfilling my dreams.”.

This went on for some time.

At first, it felt fake and forceful, but slowly, the feeling of love and warmth over took me, and the whole experience of cooking became a dance with the flow of life; a pleasant experience; a meditation.

I became lost in the presence of that blissful hour, in the kitchen, lost in the abundance of each moment, with overflowing love.

It doesn’t take a lot to get you started on the path of being thankful.

Gratitude is the fast track to contentment, and contentment for our present life situation, contentment of this moment regardless of what is in front of us is the key to happiness. Simple.

Next time you find your mind wandering off to the land of discontentment, complaining, or negative thoughts, don’t give yourself a hard time. Instead, try the simple method above of giving thanks, to those things you are immediately interacting with.  ~ Fiamma Arditi

Assumptions: Shadows on the Sand

Shadows on the Sand by Frank Sinatra

Things are not always how they seem.

Even when it’s crystal clear.  Even when there’s evidence.

Sometimes, you wake from the dream, and what was real, isn’t…

Sometimes, setting out alone on a diplomatic mission, you find peace elusive…

Sometimes, the shadow moves as you do…https://feelingupindowntimes.wordpress.com/wp-admin/press-this.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fvimeo.com%2F15842528&t=Shadows%20on%20the%20Sand%20on%20Vimeo&s=&v=4

And sand always shifts, doesn’t it?

 

Copyright © 2010 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.