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Psychoanalysis • Psychotherapy • Counseling

David I. Brandt, LCSW, LLC

Montclair, NJ Area

Tools & Insights


Does the Perspective of the Listener Matter?

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 11:36 PM Comments comments (7110)

Problem vs. Solution Focus

Posted on January 26, 2014 at 5:44 PM Comments comments (22)
Problem vs. Solution Focus

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Found this quote below. Sometimes, we really do need to focus in on, and deconstruct, issues, if only to raise our own consciousness of their essential components and/or of the issues themselves. There also comes a point where:

"If I focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. If I focus on the solution, the solution gets bigger."

Thank you to Twitter @jonniqueen (whoever you may be!?) for this one.

The Secret Blessing of Letting Go:

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 3:11 PM Comments comments (6)
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Orienting and Partializing™

Posted on November 30, 2013 at 1:11 PM Comments comments (489)
Orienting and Partializing™

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Tend to procrastinate in the face of bigger, time-consuming tasks? Or in the face of stuff you just don't feel like doing?

Try doing five minutes of the task before lunch or dinner so that you ALREADY are in process/progress with it when you take a break. Now you are over the "unknown" aspect of it.  It is already now familiar and real (vs. built up and imagined) and you might have even started to gain momentum or get ideas about it. So it is easier, then, to get back to the task when your break is over since you are now “oriented" to it.

Partializing particularly larger or more daunting tasks is also a helpful technique. For example, if you have a 600-page novel to read or 400 photos to sift through, you might be hard-pressed to begin. If, instead, you set a REASONABLE amount of the task to do -- say 10 pages per night or 20 photos per day — then, within a week's time, you will have already read at least 70 of the 600 pages or sifted through 140 of the 400 photos. Some nights, you may even find yourself really into the book or enjoying the photos and getting a bit more than your set goal accomplished. Be careful, though, not to go  too  "all out" as you also want to avoid burn-out, which could potentially set you back to avoiding and procrastinating again.

If you find that you still cannot get yourself to undertake larger, more longer-term tasks, then perhaps having some help identifying and exploring possible obstacles might be necessary. Indeed, in some cases, ADD, anxiety, perfectionism, depression or another issue might well make it harder to focus in and/or sit still to get bigger jobs done.  Besides identifying any underlying issue(s), a professional helper can also serve as a coach who can cheer you on.  

Helpful Quotes to Keep in Your Back Pocket

Posted on November 24, 2013 at 8:23 PM Comments comments (0)
Helpful Quotes to Keep in Your Back Pocket

Trigger Bill:  The trouble with life is you're half way through it by the time you realize it's one of those 'do it yourself' deals.

Lao Tzu:  If you don't change the direction of where you're going, you'll get there.

Alcoholics Anonymous:  You cannot think your way into right acting, you have to act your way into right thinking.


Winston Churchill:  If you're going through hell, keep going.

Starting and Never Finishing: Patterns of Giving Up™

Posted on November 17, 2013 at 2:09 PM Comments comments (0)
Starting and Never Finishing: Patterns of Giving Up™
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If one finds that one has little patience for “process” and thus tends to give up prematurely on efforts and ideas, then one might need to look deeper into the causes of one's seeming impatience and flightiness.  Impatient and flighty patterns, over time, can easily accrue to depression, anxiety, stuckness and low self-esteem. One starts to feel that one is in some way “different” from others, defective in learning, and/or impulsive in deciding on ideas and direction.  One may begin to wonder if one has chronic ADD or ADHD or if one is depressed, perfectionistic or simply too proud. These and other possible root causes are not only possible, but can, unfortunately, serve to further boggle and confound, adding to one’s depression, anxiety, stuckness and already lowered self-esteem.
Often these patterns of giving up are based upon underlying negative assumptions.  These habituated assumptions take the form of "automatic negative tapes” (e.g., “I’m not good at stuff," "I can’t learn," "something’s wrong with me,” etc.) playing in the background,  pervasively undermining all that one attempts!  A good coach, counselor, therapist, group or other support might well be of help in, firstly, determining if underlying diagnoses are actually present and need to be concurrently addressed.  With respect to the habituated underlying negative assumptions, a therapist or other helper may also aid in uncovering/identifying the “automatic” (and often unconscious) messages one regularly sends to one’s self, and, in helping one connect to where those messages came from, ultimately help one begin to  catch  those automatic messages/assumptions so that they become conscious and, therefore, can be worked on and counteracted!
Bear in mind that NOT continuing in a particular direction or activity may actually, at times, be a  healthy decision  representing being genuinely in tune with one’s self.  It is repeated patterns of flitting about, impulsively changing and/or giving up on chosen paths or activities that may be cause for further investigation or exploration.

Refrigerator Magnet Psychology/Wisdom! Heed!

Posted on November 15, 2013 at 9:27 PM Comments comments (0)
Click on picture to enlarge.

Honest for Whom™

Posted on November 3, 2013 at 7:54 PM Comments comments (4)
Honest for Whom™

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How many times have we heard: “Honesty is the best policy.”  Or, “Be Real." Or, “I tell it like it is." Or, "I pull no punches.”  Or, “I say exactly what is on my mind.”  Whereas, in general, "the truth  will  set you free”, there are several situations where it may be better to think before we speak, or, in other words, where “discretion  is  the better part of valor”!

When one feels like “telling it like it is” and being totally up front and honest with another, it is a good idea to ask oneself, Honest for whom???  Are we being so honest and direct because  we  feel better after it?  To prove a point?  Exact our pound of flesh? Or, is there really a good purpose in our honesty?   What are our motives?  Are we helping someone or some situation or does it just end up being purely hurtful and gratuitous?  These questions to ourselves are important filters through which to test whether or not to disclose, or confront others with, our “truths”, as we subjectively experience them.  Taking a moment to reflect upon our motives vs. impulsively blurting out the “truth” is essential!

Since truth is often a subjective interpretation of matters, it is  our  truth and not necessarily another’s.  (And, by the way, IT IS INDEED important to attempt to be as honest as possible with ourselves!)  Much thought must therefore go into whether or not it would be helpful to confront another with our views/feelings.  There certainly are times when it is of great value.  As often, though, there are times when silence or letting a person come to their own sense of themselves and/or their actions is equally as valuable and perhaps much more likely to bear positive fruit!!

Enlist Them in Your Bind™

Posted on October 26, 2013 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (2)
Enlist Them in Your Bind™

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When we want to tell someone something that is not so easy to tell - that might even be somewhat confrontational or “loaded" in nature - and we find ourselves in conflict, and equivocating, over how to tell them, there is a technique that may well be of some use!

A parent may have to set a limit for a child who he/she knows is not going to like it.  A husband, wife or partner may need to explain some behavior to his/her spouse.  An employee may wish for his/her boss to change a particular policy or assignment that is irksome.

People come to me all the time with such dilemmas.  And though there is, of course, no one answer for all situations, quite often, the advice to “enlist them in your bind” or, in other words, ask them what  they  would do in your shoes - has served many quite well.

This strategy allows the person being confronted, who might otherwise become defensive, to stay (or, rather, feel more) in control and be the one to come up with the idea or co-write the solution!  It also serves to inspire empathy vs. immediate negativity and venom. 

If the answer the 'person being confronted' gives "the enlister" is somehow still not incorporating the view the enlister was hoping to hear, and this certainly may sometimes happen, then the enlistee may need to become more oriented to the idea that a dilemma even exists.  For example, a parent asking a child how he or she would handle consequences for breaking curfew, could, on the one hand, hear back that the child would be rougher on him or herself than the parent would ever be.  Or, on the other hand, a parent may find that the child just doesn’t see why ANY parent would set a curfew.  In this latter case, there is still probably a greater chance for dialogue, philosophy-sharing, negotiation, evolving mindsets and/or educating than if the situation starts out contentious and devolves into everyone digging in their heels out of urgent frustration!

This technique of enlisting another in one’s bind requires patience and openness.  If there is a shortage of these, then other help may be needed before this strategy is likely to pay off.

Shared Meaning™

Posted on October 19, 2013 at 8:59 PM Comments comments (0)
Shared Meaning™

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All too often we converse with each other yet seem to be having two different conversations. One is speaking about apples and the other is speaking about oranges, though we think we are talking about the same things. 

The truth is we each process our experiences and interactions through our own subjective filters that are born of multiple sources (such as family of origin influences, genetics, what we've learned, self-esteem needs, peer interaction history, past traumas, projection, etc.).

All too often our pool of common or shared meaning is all too shallow. How can we gain more shared meaning?

We really have to walk a mile in the other's shoes - achieving empathy, actually - to really get the full meaning of the other's words and experiences. Each word or experience expressed by a person has a contextual background with unique associated feelings.  It behooves us to get to know and understand all of this to really "get" a person.

This work pays off nicely as intimacy starts to increase in proportion to the feelings of being heard, understood, validated, at times, and truly communicated with in general!!

These ideas sound easy enough, but they may, at times, require an ability to communicate through lots of potential walls and layers of subjective historic experience to arrive at achieving this shared meaning. But how rewarding to feel so heard and to really "get" someone.

Impatience, denial and various aspects of our personalities and histories might also be obstacles to achieving this shared meaning. These may need individual attention.  Also, communication ground rules may need to be in place before genuine and fruitful efforts to mine for this shared meaning and more effective communication can really happen. Not all partners can do this on their own. Many seek counseling and/or couples therapy and/or family therapy to facilitate this work. Others seek encounter groups or peer groups to raise consciousness around these ideas.