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Raleigh NC 27609

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Take It Easy For The New Year

30 Dec 2019

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Raleigh Psychotherapy Blog

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Help me to make beginnings:

to begin going out of my weary mind into fresh dreams,

Daring to make my own bold tracks in the land of now….

Help me to believe in beginnings, to make a beginning,

so that I may not just grow old,

But grow new

each day of this wild, amazing life

you call me to live

with passion….*

We look forward to beginnings, the beginning of a movie, the beginning of a game, the beginning of a good meal. They represent excitement and hold the hope and promise of something tasty, entertaining, or pleasurable. That is not all that beginnings...

I teeter on the brink of endings:

some anticipated, some resisted,

some inevitable, some surprising,

Most painful;

and the mystery of them quiets me to awe.

Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder

We are living a moment in time that comes only once every ten years. On January first, we put not only a year, but also an entire decade, behind us. Whether we notice it or not, we feel it in our psyches, in our bodies, in the energy of life. It is a time of reflection and change. 

Over the holidays, I heard Rabbi Stephanie Kolin speak about endings, beginnings, and...

New Year’s resolutions are a part of the American consciousness. It seems to be a requirement that you start the year right by making your resolutions. For some, it is a great way to look forward to the next year with purpose and intent. Yet, for others it is a setup for failure.

Great plans are made, energy is high, but for some that is not enough.

To these people, I would like to say: try a new approach. Think about next year as a new start. Period. Don’t force yourself to make a resolution or two (or TEN) that will set you up for self judg...

Chief Inspector Gamache is the main character in Louise Penny’s Three Pines

book series. He is an honest man with integrity and a desire to help others. In

A Brutal Telling, he makes a serious mistake in judgment and causes a dangerous drug raid to take a wrong turn. Several of his police officers are killed and he is seriously wounded. Gamache believes it is his job to protect those who work under his leadership. It is a serious and personal duty.

As the novel closes we see Gamache locked in a cycle of depression, self blame and judgment. In the fo...

Sue had a bad day. She missed an important deadline at work on a project that was important to her job. This came at the same time as she was being considered for a promotion.  She had interviewed for a position that would push her to the next level of management. Sue had worked for two years to prepare herself for this promotion, and the time had finally come.

Because of the mistake she made, Sue was taken out of the running for the position.  She was so depressed and ashamed that she went home and had a drink. In the past, that had helped reliev...

We’ve established that shame can be both a powerful motivator while also operating without the effort of conscious thought.  Something that can hold such significant sway over who we are and how we act deserves a deeper understanding of how it develops.

An Emotional Clutch

Shame, as with many other emotions and behaviors we’ve discussed, develops in childhood as we learn to regulate behaviors.  Dan Siegel and Mary Hartzell describe it as an emotional “clutch” that kicks in to redirect one’s interest in more acceptable behaviors.  This makes sense w...

Jack came into the office feeling deep and painful shame. “I made so many

stupid decisions,” he told me. “I hurt everyone I love and who loves me. I am a failure in life. I feel so ashamed of myself. I can see no way I can ever forgive myself for the years that I hurt others. If people knew who I really am and what I

did, they would hate me like I hate myself. I am a bad worthless person and

should have never been born. 

“I don’t do those things any more, but no matter what I do it never seems to be

enough.  I try to make amends and change.  I don’t k...

Most of us have heard the story of the scorpion and the turtle. It can illustrate many points and teach a number of lessons.  I see it as a parable about mistrust and trust, and how old messages formed from treatment in our formative years can lead us to abandon our good thinking.  Let’s take a look.

The Scorpion and the Turtle

The scorpion and the turtle meet on a river bank. The scorpion cannot swim, so she asks for a ride across the river on the turtle’s back. Mr. Turtle has been around the block a couple of times, has heard the stories abo...

Carl grew up with a mother who raged. If his dad was late getting home, his mother would go into a rage. If he spilled something on the floor his mother would go into a rage. If she was left waiting too long she would go into a rage. Carl was terrified of his mother, even though she could be loving and caring.

 Bruce’s father was impatient and strict when sober, but when he got drunk he would turn violent and threaten him, his sister and mother. His mother was afraid and could not defend herself and her children from him.

 Anna’s mother was critica...

The little things we overlook build up to the big things that can change, or even derail, the plans we have for our lives. 

Last week, we talked about the importance of noticing the little things in your life, and how those things, when they go unnoticed for extended periods, can add up to difficulties, or even disasters. The opposite is true as well: little choices can also add up to big, positive changes. It takes longer to see the big picture, but you can

immediately feel a small, positive feeling as a result of the small things you can do for y...

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