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.
In Uncategorized on June 13, 2013 at 7:18 am
Today I was a hypocrite.
I stood in a long line waiting for a ticket while I watched the 20-something-year-old behind the desk chew his gum and work at a leisurely pace while several other employees walked by without offering any assistance. The other “older” people in line said things like “I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes!!” and “You would think someone else would offer to help” but the employee continued at his own pace, moving casually through his tasks. I felt my aggravation grow. I looked at him with annoyance.
Then I called myself a hypocrite.
This employee personified so many of the clients I see in my office, who Joel Stein in a May 2013 Time Magazine article called the “me me me generation.” Contrary to how the term sounds, there is much we can learn from this narcissistic generation.
Stein acknowledges the entitlement, arrogance, and addiction to all things screen. And despite this, he sees what I observe and confirm daily. These millenials are earnest, optimistic, and want approval, often from their parents just as much as from their friends. Self esteem seems to be higher than self confidence perhaps because their expectations for themselves are so high. Perhaps the constant comparisons from daily Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter updates take a toll. But they want to feel better. They come into their session, take off their shoes, lie down and say “I have so much to tell you” followed shortly by, “I feel so much better now”. They are genuine, kind, caring and sweet. And remember, our parents’ generation complained a heck of a lot about us too!