Transformance — What Can Happen When Shame Lifts

My client was a high functioning professional. During our many months of therapy she spoke of numerous times in her life when she felt too awkward or too shy or too depressed when she felt put down by people in her family or at work. She had a part of her that believed that something was wrong with her. And yet there was another part of her from long ago that knew that what was going on in her family was not right. And that part had been frozen in shame. All her emotions and her life forward direction stayed stuck and frozen in that shame/trauma bubble.

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How to Transform Shame over the Holidays

There’s a subtle or not so subtle expectation of what is supposed to be happening this time of year: images of a loving family gathered around a tree or fireplace, expensive presents, lots of food to eat, the image of love and connection through the generations as people smile at each other. Whether on TV or a holiday card or images on the internet, there is a warm feeling of connection to these images. Whatever each family tradition or circumstance, if there is difference, sometimes even there is shame. And there can be shame between our imagined family on TV or little house on the prairie memories and the remembered unavoidable misattunements, and even horrors in some families, of what showed up growing up.

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They Won Again: Did Healthy Shame Contribute to the Golden State Warriors’ Success?

 Although I must admit I was never a basketball fan until a few years ago, I did watch the Golden State Warriors win the NBA championship yesterday for the second time in three years! When my husband first told me about an amazing 3-point shooter by the name of Stephen Curry, I immediately noticed Curry’s smaller physique and graceful, dancer-like movements that allowed him to navigate his way through members of the other team in a very different kind of way. As my husband explained the game to me, I began to see the advantage of Curry’s 3-point shots from far across the court, compared to the 2-point shots that most players compete for. I was impressed by the teamwork and spirit of cooperation by the Warriors, who live up to their motto of “Strength in Numbers.” 

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Whose Fault Is It?

I come from a long line of blamers. When something was wrong, my mom said it was my dad’s fault; my dad, of course, said it was my mom’s fault. It had to be someone’s fault. That was just the way things were in the world. Somehow all along the family tree there would be stories of who was to blame for what, stories that seemed to pass beyond the generations into the long distant past. Often there would be a cut-off, as in: We don’t talk to them anymore. We just talk about them! 

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How to Cope with Disappointment

How do you deal with profound disappointment? With things not going the way you wanted—or expected?

How do you deal with disruption/change/shock/disorientation/feeling like the bottom just fell out and you don’t know which end is up? Several clients have spoken lately of feeling confounded: “…Like being in the middle of deep water, so I can’t touch down anywhere, and I don’t know which way land is. There’s nothing to hold onto. I’m disoriented and don’t know what to do—but I can’t stay where I am and have to do something.”

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Can Imagination Heal Shame?

Once I was working with a woman who was feeling very lost in her life. She wasn’t sure if she even wanted to start a new job or a new relationship. I asked her what her picture was when she imagined getting a new job, and all she could picture was what happened in her last job: her co-worker and even her supervisor putting her down. I asked her what picture she imagined when she thought about a new relationship and she couldn’t even imagine that; she just kept saying over and over, “The last one wasn’t very good, so there must be something wrong with me.”

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How Naming What’s Happening Can Help Your Relationship

Often I notice that in the back and forth of the day to day, we can lose ourselves in one thing after another. Sometimes when we can put a name on to something that’s happening and pause, it can allow us to stop and be in the moment in a more embodied way.

Let me give you a few examples. A couple from my practice told me how one day in the middle of their usual argument about who was going to pick up their daughter, who was going to buy the groceries, etc., instead of escalating the argument, the fellow said to his wife, “I want to thank you for choosing me so long ago.” She was surprised to hear this, because he’d never said it before, and she stopped everything to listen to more. He said that after talking to an old friend from high school, he’d been daydreaming about the past and he’d realized that his life had gotten more on track after their relationship had started, so many years ago. 

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Is Your Cell Phone Getting in the Way of Your Relationship?

I had a client a few years ago who called me very upset because his wife had thrown his cell phone out the window.

You might be surprised, but attachment injuries can be caused by an electronic device!

Nowadays, many kids as well as adults are texting or even talking on their cell phones during dinner, if they even eat dinner together. Often spouses are texting or talking on their phones while they’re trying to have a conversation with each other. There is something almost unnoticed that can happen when one person turns away from their partner or child—and toward the electronic device.

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Self-Revelatory Performance (Part 1)

The method and term “self-revelatory performance” was coined by Dr. Renee Emunah, director of the Drama Therapy Department at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), in San Francisco, California. She writes in her book Acting for Real (1994: 225) that in the self- revelatory scene or performance, “The issue must be current so that there is an immediacy to this transformation; this immediacy is theatrically compelling and at times riveting. The creation of the scene itself and the transition contained within it imply a kind of transcendence, which the audience witnesses and applauds.”

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Almost Magic: Working with The Shame that Underlies Depression In The Imaginal Realm

My client came in. Instead of her usual smile and carefree toss of her hair, this day there was sadness to her and slowness to her movements. “I was leading my yoga class and I had all these new students. Everyone was so excited; their friends told them how good my class is. When I started to teach, all of a sudden I could not get my words out. I must be the worst yoga teacher in the world! I could hardly wait for the class to be over. I felt like such a phony! I don’t want to teach anymore!”

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Working With Sexual Shame In Couples Therapy

In the past few years, several men have contacted me after discovering their wife was having an online affair. And several women have contacted me after discovering their husband was engaged in online porn or trying to get together with other women through social media or dating websites. Each of these couples was shocked and shaken because they never thought their partner would do something like that. And even the partners told me that they never thought they would ever do something like that.

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