Psychoanalysis • Psychotherapy • Counseling

David I. Brandt, LCSW, LLC

Montclair, NJ Area

Tools & Insights

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Interesting Commentary on Marriage

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 4:46 PM Comments comments (0)
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(Do you see these couples as potentially peaceful? Bored and mechanized? Close or distant? OK or not OK?)

Can One Ever Successfully Possess or Fully Know Another Person?

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 4:38 PM Comments comments (4)
“Marriage … that odd mixture of violent devotion and legitimate lust in which desire eventually gives way to a forced and decorous composure that captures the essential opacity of even one’s most intimate partner”

Alberto Moravia (translated from Italian)

Problem vs. Solution Focus

Posted on January 26, 2014 at 5:44 PM Comments comments (0)
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 (2)
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Help Your Inner Self to Emerge!

Posted on November 30, 2013 at 1:44 PM Comments comments (0)
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Orienting and Partializing™

Posted on November 30, 2013 at 1:11 PM Comments comments (1)
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.

Plus:

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.
 

Walking on Eggshells™

Posted on November 9, 2013 at 9:23 PM Comments comments (2)
Walking on Eggshells™

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Having to walk on eggshells around someone can be irritating, self-esteem annihilating, and may, over time, encourage completely giving up on communication with the person that makes one feel that way!  This in turn can lead the 'eggshell-walker' to passive-aggressive responses, over-sensitized responses, non-democratic decision-making (usurpation), and/or a whole host of other sequelae, as communication  devolves  over time!

The person who consciously or unconsciously makes others walk on eggshells has evolved this self-protection method, probably in the service of guarding themselves against potential (perceived or real) threats to their sense of control. Actions that cause others to walk on eggshells often are comprised of intimidation, anger, rage, stern faces, threatening-looking scowls, or oversensitivity and frequently feel an awful lot like being bullied feels.  As with bullying, these behaviors may be a cover for an underlying experience of powerlessness or a lack of another more effective and adaptive means of control. Thus, they serve a sort of positive "protective" function by limiting the amount of perceived danger and anxiety that can get in thereby helping one remain in control. But, like so many other defenses which start out in good service of the self, they end up undermining, angering, alienating and otherwise disconnecting the eggshell-maker from his or her world.

Interestingly, the person walking on eggshells may inadvertently be creating their own eggshells through their reactions and/or responses to experiencing this constant wall whenever they approach the eggshell creator. So a viscious cycle gets created, and perpetuated, and no one feels able to communicate and everyone involved feels unheard and hopeless!! Not a good place to be or way to feel!!

What does one do if one finds one's self in this scenario?  The best chances for success reside in helping the eggshell-maker raise his or her own awareness of his or her eggshell-making!  So often, one is not aware of the impact one's ways have on another!  Just having some truth or awareness to carry around in one's back pocket often starts the wheels of change a-rollin’!  We all know, however, that defenses don’t die easily since the need for protection from loss of control and anxiety is long accumulated and habituated - over years!

Also, defiance and confrontation are not typically the norm for people who find themselves frequently in patterns of walking on eggshells around others - nor is wave-making confrontation typically all that useful. What would seem to be most useful, at least in many cases, is some form of persistent (relentless even), but calm and matter-of-fact, management of these dynamics.  Remember that the eggshell-maker is (often unconsciously) very invested in these dynamics.  So a careful and yet steady zero-tolerance and consciousness-raising plan is probably needed, as are better communication skills (for both parties). 

In future blogs I will further detail strategies that can be used effectively in couples, parent-child, and other relationships, including with employers and employees.  If these strategies seem to be getting nowhere over time, then the direction of this management might need to change towards a calm, matter-of-fact ultimatum to go to couples, family or individual therapy.  Such an ultimatum must be thought about carefully as using it most certainly may exacerbate defenses.  Such an ultimatum should only be used as a last resort when one means business.

One last point:  Eventually, the eggshell-maker must learn to let go of his or her tremendous need for control and his or her such absolute takes on situations.  The door for healthy communication cannot be opened without some aspect of this "letting go" occurring!

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.