In Uncategorized on March 26, 2014 at 6:58 pm
You know that voice I am talking about. The one that never blames, criticizes and guilts… anyone but yourself. Oftentimes when I talk with clients about their inner voice, tears come immediately. Whether they are fifteen or fifty, they know exactly what I am talking about. Their harsh critic. Their unforgiving words. Their denial of good work. It is that voice that thanks publicly but chastises privately. So many people have this, but so many are unwilling to talk back to it.
I was reading a magazine article about questions we should be asking ourselves. The questions ranged from caring too much about what other people think, to asking am I strong enough, helpful enough, reflective enough, to how do I want to be remembered. While tough questions for most people, these can be torturous for others. Enough is a really tough word, and I admire those who ever feel “enough”.
I joke that a diagnosis in the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) should be “hard on yourself”, because that is what afflicts many. It is said with a smile, but often felt with sadness. If that voice is spending an ordinate amount of time questioning and judging and criticizing yourself, then how can you make better use of your time? There is a difference between quieting that voice and actually confronting it. Can that same energy that is used to listen to that voice now be used to sing your own praises? Can it forgive, and finally say “yes… enough”?
In Uncategorized on September 19, 2013 at 9:05 am
“You’ve gained some weight. Is everything OK?” “I saw your son’s name in the paper for a DUI. How is he doing?” “Your son told mine that his dad has a bad temper. I thought you should know that.” “You lost a lot of weight and look different. How are you?” “I heard you have to sell your house after your husband lost his job. I hope you are doing alright.” “You mentioned treatment and you have been MIA lately. What’s going on? What can I do?”
I could go on and on. These are all the things we think but rarely if ever say. Instead we say, “Hey!!! You look great”; “How are you?”; “Good to see you.” The you look great comment is often our reflexive reaction when we notice different but we don’t always meant great.
What is culturally and socially acceptable to say to people? What is crossing a boundary and privacy line and what is genuine caring? I will admit that in my personal life I ask a lot of questions. It is an integral part of my professional life and my job really defines who I am. I ask because I do care. But I have to always remind myself that questioning people can come off as invasive and nosy. And on the other hand, I find myself feeling let down when friends don’t ask about my recent life event and have to remind myself that they are respecting my privacy; or possibly would feel it would make me uncomfortable to bring up a sad situation.
The clients I see are by and large the nicest, most considerate, loving and caring people to walk this Earth. How do I know? Because each session they tell me their thoughts about others and their desire to reach out, connect, listen, support. But it is impossible that they are the select few. More likely is that we all hesitate. They have the desire, but don’t always follow through. We hesitate to ask, connect, support because we are too concerned with being rejected or seen as invasive.
What we need to remember is that genuine is genuine is genuine. As humans, we can get on board with genuine intentions and love, and if we can remember that, we can say what we mean and then reap the benefits of the consequences.
In Uncategorized on August 22, 2013 at 5:44 pm
As a therapist, I have to always be conscious of countertransference. Over identifying is a caution we learned about in grad school, and during sessions I make sure to catch myself and keep it in check. Fighting with your spouse? Yep, been there. Concerned about your children? Always. Just plain hard on yourself? Often. The one that really gets me, though, is the working mom guilt. Gratefully, I have been able to keep it clinical and professional in my office. It’s those times when I read the chapter in Sheryl Sandburg’s book Lean In called “The Myth of Having it All” where I find myself nodding and saying “Yes, me too”. I think the last time I did that was when I had a fussy infant and I read Dr. Weissbluth’s (aka the sleep doctor) book.
These working mom books, articles, and blogs are coming up more frequently. My friend just sent me the link to this article in the New York Times, http://nyti.ms/15H4VL8, “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In” by Judith Warner. Originally I thought I’d post the article on my Facebook professional page (www.facebook.com/lynnrzakerilcsw) and share it with those interested. But once I read it, there I went, nodding, underlining and thinking about how it pertains to me. I went from working at a school, to working at a school and beginning a private clinical practice, to cutting back at the school and doing school and private practice 50/50, and the past five years I have been full-time private practice. In my vision, that meant part-time therapist and part-time stay-at-home-mom. In reality, it is full time both.
Judith Warner talks about educated, professional women who stay home with their kids and all the “others” that come with that (keeping house, organizing birthday parties and other activities, and planning meals). But she also found that oftentimes these women are so used to being busy and productive that throwing themselves into PTAs and soccer schedules is coming up short on their fulfillment stick.
There is an old quote by Caitlin Flanigan “when a mother works, something is lost” but Judith Warner also found that 75% of Americans agree with the statement that a working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work. I believe this statement. In fact, I believe there is a very short period of quality time needed with your child to have a satisfying quality relationship. I just need to practice what I preach, let go of the working mom guilt, and continue to nod along with these statements.