Tag Archives: Life

Can’t Be Said Much Better Than This…

Life’s never easy.  We can decide what we want.  (Well,  some of us can;  for others, even knowing what we want is not so easy). 

There’s much we can choose, if we are fortunate.   And we are all, all of us, quite fortunate (even when, on those bad days, we don’t feel that way).  And though there’s no sure-fire path to getting it all, good psychotherapy can help find – and clear – the path to happiness.  Search, question, focus, discipline, know what matters, meditate, learn about and face oneself honestly in the company of a therapist who listens and “gets it”: safe landing, real contentment and true happiness are indeed possible.

Even if there’s no guarantee of getting/having even what we (think we) need.  Even if it’s finding and traveling the path to, not being and staying at some desired destination.

Sometimes therapy’s about listening – both the therapist, and the patient – to the felt need.   Permitting the feelings, the desires, the sense of urgency:  wanting what we want, when we want it.

And then accepting that it is however it is.  And if we share our most private wishes with someone who hears, gets it – and accepts us as we are – well, sometimes, maybe, that’s really as good as it gets.  And it’s quite good enough.

Is it any wonder people fall in love with their therapists?

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


How to Get Him to Listen: A Primer

Ever get the sense the person you are talking to may hear you, but is not listening?

Want to be heard, really heard, before you lose your cool?

Before you begin

(by – and for – yourself):

  1. Determine clear, specific objective for the conversation.
  2. Have your facts available, preferably in bullet-point form.
  3. Note alternatives if your objectives are not met (end the conversation, rethink your assumptions, time-out to cool down, enlist others, etc.).
  4. Your goal: to reach similar conclusion, redefining the problem as a common problem to be solved together.  (Assume you are on the same team, simply with different information, points of view, which when shared lead to mutually satisfying conclusion.  Your job: to get you there).
  5. Take a breath, collect yourself.

During the conversation:

  1. State your (joint) objective.  Make sure you have buy-in from listener.
  2. Ask listener to explain his point of view while you listen without reacting.(Repeat what you hear:  ensures you understand his position – and that he knows you take him seriously, are listening).
  3. Ask if he’s done and will now listen to your point of view.
  4. Keep it short.
  5. Stick to the subject.Spell out (new) points of agreement, next steps.

Always Remember:

  1. Respect.
  2. Your tone of voice: patient explaining, interested listening, patient explaining. No attitude, yelling, condescension, bullying, insulting.
  3. Facts, not personalities.  Contingencies, not threats. Best outcome for all, not who’s right and who’s wrong.
  4. Breathe.  Remember your objective and goal.
  5. If he stops listening, you stop talking (and start listening until he’s ready to listen again).
Copyright © 2011 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

Intimate Relationships Newly Defined.

So here they are.   My guys (I don’t think they’d mind knowing I think of them that way).  The one who’s in love with me.  The one who can’t live without me.  The one who doesn’t say a word but can’t stop staring and smiling at me.  The one who can’t really see or hear me but just has to talk for a few more minutes.  The one who doesn’t need to talk at all, just sit together…

We met in the square.  Actually, I entered the square not knowing it was their square.  But – after they’d circled me and clucked at me and asked one another what they thought –  they told me I was welcome.  In their square, have a seat. In the sun.

They’d been waiting together, waiting for one another and with one another, for years. And now, it seems, they decided they’d been waiting for me.  They couldn’t have been more gracious.  They invited me to sit, to visit, to tell them about myself and my world.  The invited me to get to know them, to take their picture, to remember them, to let them remember me and the day we all fell in love…

Because really, what could be more intimate than being welcomed, invited to sit on the sunny bench in their square?  What could be more intimate than waiting, together, me and my guys…

Relationships come in all manner of packages.  Intimate moments are just waiting for us to find them, or to let them find us…

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

“I Don’t Do Emotion”*

stone_wall Well, at least he was consistent. Like a stone wall. It was the first sentence he uttered after she accepted his proposal: “Just one more thing. I don’t do emotion.” She laughed. “You don’t do emotion! I’m all emotion!”

She really didn’t get it. And, more than five years in, shared life experiences, kids’ triumphs and tribulations, illnesses and deaths, work ups and downs, disagreements and joys, counseling and avoidance, he’s still saying “I don’t do emotion.” And she still doesn’t know what he means.

She knows how it manifests: In puffing himself up, convinced he impresses a polite, more learned, audience. In defensive justifications rather than admitting when he gets it wrong. In feeling disrespected when someone else passionately debates a difference of opinion. In leaving the room when deep feelings emerge: loneliness, anxiety, sorrow, passion. In running out of counseling when he is touched and sheds a tear, apologizing for displaying weakness, shocking their therapist. In having access to a remarkably limited range of feelings: Upset. Fine. Happy with no smile.

He never gets angry, or so he says (between gritted teeth). “I have to defend myself!” from attacks real, or more often imaginary. He shoves feelings away in a lock-box, safer that way, more robotic. Sneaking and hiding: passwords on the passwords. Technically not lying while not being honest at all. Or just lying through those teeth…

He is like a little boy who covers his eyes and thinks because he can’t see you, you can’t see him . He expects you to collude in his fantasy that all is as he so desperately wants it to appear; he is infuriated when you don’t.

His emotional intelligence quotient is low; all emotions scare him. He pretends he’s rational while really playing a shell game with feelings. The space between who he appears and who he feels himself to be widens, and he is threatened. And when he’s threatened or hurts, he attacks. You. He accuses you of behaviors that are in fact his own.

He could learn, if he had the courage to face himself. But not only doesn’t he know what he feels, he can’t face who he is. He certainly can’t begin to get what you feel. And try as you might, you can’t do feeling and intimacy for two. Emotional intelligence, anyone?

*While the couple in this post is unfortunately all too real, please be assured (as per our blog privacy policy) they are neither patients nor clients.

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

The Weight of the World On Your Shoulders

Again. Still. Always…

You have responsibilities: to your children, to your spouse, to your parents, to your partner, to your employees, to your banker…

to yourself…

It’s too much. But it doesn’t go away. Oh, sometimes it gets quieter, or lighter. And sometimes it feels heavier or your feet are stuck.  And sometimes you even stumble under the weight of it all.

But you can’t rid yourself of it, make it go away, put it down once and for all.

So what’s there to do?

Carry your burden more lightly… Breathe deep into your center, remember your purpose, remember you are not alone, remember it is what it is, and, most of all, remember what is real…What matters…

And remember that it all passes; it all turns into the next thing.  Faster than we ever imagined…

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

Multi-tasking taking its Toll? Psychological Survival Skills for the Recession – and Beyond

Juggle too much, you drop the ball. These are stressful times.

Oh, forget that! It’s always stressful times for some of us: not enough time, too much to do, not enough energy, too much pressure… Things have sped up so much, for so many of us. Michael Winerip quotes Nina Lentini in today’s New York Times , “Everybody works like this now. This is just the new reality.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/fashion/21genb.html

Which is why you laughed when your father told you to complain to your boss about your hours. 9 to 5? Ancient history. 8 to 8? Starting to look like pretty good hours, if you are really done at 8. Because this is closer to the truth: online, on the cell, on duty, 24/7.

The truth about multi-tasking: More does not equal more; more equals less. We do too many things at the same time, and do each less well than we think we do. We juggle too much, and sleep too little. And it’s affecting our health as well as our disposition (tired person = cranky person). http://videos.apnicommunity.com/Video,Item,1091439491.html. We need to sleep more, multi-task less.

How to get the incentive?
Try an experiment. Two weeks. Get to bed – and sleep – an hour earlier than usual. And try doing one thing at a time. You know, what Mr. Graessle told you in 10th grade Science class. Two weeks. See if it makes a difference; you know it will.

How to get the sleep you need?

Take it. Decide to get up earlier rather than stay up later. You’ll accomplish more when you’re not exhausted.
Imagine it. As you close your eyes, repeat to yourself, “I am falling asleep now, and will sleep restfully through the night.”

How to get the rest you need?

Take it. Take a 24-hour break from technology: no cell, no computer, no ipod, no alarm clock. This is what used to be called the Sabbath…
Take it. Just say no. No more. Not now. Not until I’ve finished this. No, it’s enough.
Take it. Breathe. Meditate. Focus on one thing at a time. Like watching the sky…
Imagine it. As you start to tell yourself you can squeeze in just one more thing, imagine how you’d feel if you just didn’t. Just this once. Or maybe not…

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

The Road Ahead, 2010:

Sometimes, it seems full of promise.
Sometimes, it is hard to see ahead, past the dark clouds.
Sometimes, the road’s too rough, and you don’t have enough gas in the tank.
Sometimes, the signs don’t really seem likely to get you where you want at all.
Sometimes, it seems futile.

And sometimes, all you need is a wrinkled and spotted hand, reaching out over the seat for your wrinkled and spotted hand, wordlessly letting you know you are not alone…

Hard times. Recession, 2009. Hard times.
And the road ahead in 2010? Hard times or good times, or some combination of both…
There’s an outstretched hand; you are not alone.
Remember the outstretched hand. And remember to look ahead.

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.