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Psychoanalysis • Psychotherapy • Counseling

David I. Brandt, LCSW, LLC

Montclair, NJ Area

Tools & Insights


Showing Up™

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM Comments comments (5)
Showing Up

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I have heard it said that "showing up is half the battle".  One can hold onto this thought in one's back pocket to help them move in the face of anticipatory fears and negative assumptions that might otherwise impede movement and stir up avoidance.  Examples of these impeding thoughts might be: I'll be bored, or, no one will like me, or, they'll think I'm trying to prove something, I'll be all alone, I won't know what to say, I'm too fat, etc.

Many I know often end up feeling fairly pleased that they went to a pre-scheduled (or unscheduled) event, despite not feeling much like going at all just ahead of the event, as their anticipations started to really ramp up.  It turned out not to be as bad as they thought,  nor anything like  what they had built up in their heads!  Indeed  it was even good  that they bumped into this or that person, or dispelled a myth that they had been holding onto about another or even about themselves.  Perhaps they had an excellent laugh or made a valued connection.  Maybe they simply got themselves out and felt good just for that!

Of course, sometimes canceling out or trusting a foreboding feeling about some plan can pay off as well. We get some emotional refueling, alone time, or avoid some real (and perhaps not so imagined) problem encounter, etc.

There is another essential aspect of this 'showing up' business: and that is the 'leap of faith' that on some level is always involved!  In other words, it takes a certain amount of trust and openness, along with a certain level of motivation, to believe in and actually make use of the adage 'showing up is half the battle'.  It may take unwinding some old traumas or having an evolution of small successes or other factors to begin to become more accustomed to trusting these words as a motivator of movement.  This may require some found support along the way.

Approach, Tone and Attitude™

Posted on September 22, 2013 at 4:53 PM Comments comments (0)
Approach, Tone and Attitude™

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All too often we take the ones we are closest to the most for granted.  We feel that "they know us" or that they will love us unconditionally, and thus we can say whatever we want to say however we want to say it.  The assumption is usually that they will simply "understand what we mean".

First of all, what I have found from working with couples in couples therapy (and parents and children in family therapy) is that this is exactly NOT true!  We ought never lose sight of, nor forget the value of, mutual respect!  In truth, we probably want to be   particularly  mindful of those to whom we are closest. This doesn't mean we can never let our guard down nor feel 'in the pocket' with a loved one.  It does mean, however, that we should never take them for granted and assume that all is okay - that they will tolerate anything we dish out when we are on automatic.

So, in the end, becoming aware of, and being conscious of, our APPROACH is as much as  85% of the battle at times: so many couples' (or parent-child dyads') issues can be reduced, in the end, to approach patterns/styles.  It is often not so much about WHAT is being said (i.e., the thing being discussed) as much as it is about the TONE and ATTITUDE with which it is being said! 

We really can react in quite (often historically loaded) ways to another's approaches, tones and attitudes - even when we don't really mind what the other is actually saying.  It is so often about HOW something is being said.  There is, more often than not, a diplomatic or reasonable way to put something across!  These efforts may often take practice and more work at first, but I believe that they also lead to better outcomes over time.

If tweaking one's approach does not seem to bear better relationship fruit, then perhaps a stint in couples or family therapy or some other consciousness-raising activity together or individually might prove of some value - at least until both parties can operate more on the same page (the page of showing genuine interest in making these concepts of mutual respect and couples consciousness important)!

Getting Moving and Just Doing™

Posted on September 14, 2013 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (408)
Getting Moving and Just Doing™

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This is about the idea of  "just doing".  If we  "just do"  something (some small anything) in the direction of what we want to do when we're feeling stuck, and it doesn't much matter what, we are then already in motion which is a powerful tool/force! 

For example, if one has writer's block, then it often really helps to just 'spit out' whatever one can onto the paper without too much thought, pre-judgment or perfectionism - trusting that there is an editing/draft process later.  Just glop it out in one bulk writing movement.  Things happen once you do that!!  It takes on a life of its own. 

This applies in so many arenas!  Dating, procrastinating, etc.  My wife often suggests that I sit down and just do 5 minutes of what I have been avoiding before dinner, so that when I get back to the task after dinner, it has already been started and I'll already feel that I'm in it.  The truth is that often I can't wait to get back to it, as I have gotten over the hump!!

Importantly, whatever the "thing" is that we start doing toward some goal may actually not be "right" at all.  No matter!  It is simply the fact that we are MOVING that can start to open up doors and give us OUR next ideas!  Especially if we can get to a place where we can be open to this process. So, in essence, just move*!

*Now it often takes a certain set of alignments to get to the point of just moving - if one finds that they cannot "just move", then perhaps seeking some outside support or help toward that, after awhile, is in order.

Rules and Codes™

Posted on September 7, 2013 at 8:32 PM Comments comments (0)
Rules and Codes™

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Many folks take a certain amount of pride in having a code of the road (or codes of the road).  There is a "should" or a "way to be".  Certainly some codes have their place.  Flexibility, however, is also probably very important. Obviously, not every rule applies rigidly in every circumstance. For many, it would do them some real good to also keep in mind the adage, "the only rule is that there are no rules"!!

(NOTE: No one idea is always the right solution for all people all of the time.  These tools are just a part of a picture when working on one's interactions in the world [or on oneself], not the whole picture.)

The 2% Rule ™ As Regards Nagging

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (82)
The 2% Rule ™ Regarding Nagging a Spouse or any Other

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If someone is nagging us and driving us crazy with their relentless nagging, it is important to realize a couple of things: Firstly, the other person is   probably not   crazy in that   something   about whatever they are perceiving in our actions or in-actions truly   is   hitting some button in them (e.g., increasing their anxiety, offending them, maybe we really are ignoring them, etc.).  In other words they have their subjective truth about what they are experiencing in our dynamic.

Secondly, how often is the "mis-step" that they perceive occurring? Are they nagging us obsessively with no sense that our "mis-step" is unusual, rare and/or just human?  For couples or people that get into these sorts of dynamics, it might be useful to agree upon a percentage amount, say 2-10%, whereby if the "mis-step" occurs less than that percentage of the time, then the "perceiver" of the injustice (or the infringement) gives them a pass and doesn't raise it or nag them about it.  But if it starts to get over the percentage, then they have an agreed upon right to raise it and have an intelligent and calm discussion about the matter and dynamics afoot (or go to psychotherapy [or the like] if they cannot). 

Of course this presumes that the couple or pair   have previously agreed   upon whatever it is that is getting nagged about.  If that is NOT the case then THAT becomes the issue that first needs to be negotiated!!

(NOTE: No one idea is always the right solution for all people all of the time.  These tools are just a part of a picture when working on couple's or pair's dynamics, not the whole picture.)