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Jason Seidel, Psy.D.   303.377.0999

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Jason Seidel, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

303-377-0999

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I have been influenced by a variety of therapy theories and approaches to living a good life, including (in no particular order): existential therapy; body-centered therapy; Jungian theory; psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theory; attachment theory; Gestalt therapy; family & systems theory; the mythopoetic men's movement; feminist relational theory; mindfulness; Zen Buddhism; object relations theory; cognitive and behavioral theories.

An ancient story from the Lankavatara Sutra, translated into Chinese in the 3rd century, made its way into the classic Bruce Lee movie, Enter the Dragon. Lee was an existentialist philosopher who happened to be a martial arts virtuoso. In this deceptively simple and campy scene, the teacher's corrective slaps are meant to wake up, not to hurt or shame.

In the original story as in this retelling, the idea is that thinking and words try to get at a felt truth that is more profound, powerful, or glorious. Words can be unnecessary. Thoughts can miss the point. Feelings open our way to an essential connection to ourselves, clear action, and living in greater harmony with others and the world as it is. When Lee says to "try again, with me," he is trying to break through to a person doing it all by himself, which prevents growth and effectiveness because it lacks openness and connection (to feeling, to others). So, as you read the brief essays and ideas below, remember: they are only a finger pointing away to the moon.

click on a topic:

addictions
anger
anxiety
assertiveness and confidence
attention & focus (& ADHD)
behavior modification
body-mind integration
boundaries
business, sales, and management
childrearing
couples/marriage therapy
depression
eating issues
emotional regulation (& bipolar)
existential issues
extreme stuckness
grief
identity
infertility
infidelity & affairs
intimacy & openness
leadership
management/business
masculinity & men's issues
mindfulness
narcissism: masks of grandiosity & shame
OCD
parenting
premarital counseling
self-discipline
self-esteem & self-confidence
sexuality & sexual intimacy
trauma (childhood, medical, sexual, accident-related)
weight loss


addictions

There are many theories of addiction and how to overcome them. One thing we know from clinical research is that different approaches work for different people, and despite what you may have heard, there is no "best" treatment. Some people swear by the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups. But many people have not found this approach helpful. I often tell people that to overcome an addiction, you must be willing to face the agony that arises when you stop giving into it. If you are not willing to open to the pain, there is no hope for recovery. Many professionals consider addictions to be attachment disorders (problems in connecting with others in ways that bring comfort). One reason that groups (AA, Rational Recovery, Lifering, and others) exist is that we must eventually accept that we need others if we are to live, even if we had given up hope on people long ago. Therapy can help you bear the pain and fear, and provide the support you need.

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anger

Many clients are referred to me for "anger management." Imagine their surprise when one of the first things I focus on is encouraging a clearer expression of the anger. I'm interested in what the core reason for all the anger actually is (rather than simply calling it "unreasonable" or "irrational"), not just trying to get rid of it (which won't work anyway). Feelings, no matter how intense and seemingly out-of-proportion, are always rational if we understand their real causes (usually our past experiences, fears, or expectations). True understanding and respect for our own wildness helps appropriately tame the wildness.

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anxiety

There are many different flavors of anxiety: anxiety about intimacy, anxiety about specific experiences (phobias such as fear of flying, or fear of public speaking), social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and trauma experiences that create fears of being in one's own skin or being around other people. Many people come to therapy for help with a vague anxiety: the fear of simply feeling what's in your gut, and the fear of the unknown future. Therapy can help you pass through and move beyond suffering by feeling more relaxed in yourself and calm in the midst of life instead of feeling as if you are bracing against it.

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assertiveness & confidence

Problems with assertiveness and confidence often come from a deep doubt about who we are or whether we really have something to offer. We may have been punished in extreme or subtle ways for being "big" or standing strongly in ourselves. Being able to 'stand strong' but still be open, connected, and receptive to the feelings and ideas of others (and have the flexibility to alter our positions in response to others but not folding like a house of cards) is a hallmark of psychological maturity.

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attention & focus (& ADHD)

Like many other "brain disorders," ADHD and problems with attention, focus, concentration, procrastination, and distractibility are the normal consequences of living in the modern age. In the mental health industry, "disorders" are problems that seriously interfere with effective functioning. Lots of things can cause persistent problems with attention and focus. And stimulants (in the right amounts) whether caffeine, Ritalin, Adderall (dextroamphetamine), or crystal meth (methamphetamine), all can sharpen focus...which is why college students, high school students, and even middle school students like to increase their dosage when studying and writing papers. We live in a culture that rewards intense focus in the midst of almost unbearable stimulation and competing demands for our attention. I do not support the use of stimulants as if these are "treatments" for these difficulties. While they are effective, they can perpetuate a way of life that may not respect a healthy range of human nature. Treatment consists of identifying and controlling the stimuli and learning how to support an inner calm that can improve your ability to process information and act in a focused, coherent way.

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behavior modification

Changing a behavior will sometimes lead to a change in attitudes or feelings, just as a change in feeling will sometimes lead to a change in behavior or attitude. A change in our experience changes our neurochemistry and ultimately our neuroanatomy. To paraphrase neuropsychiatrist Helen Mayberg, we can enter this circular highway from any number of on-ramps to get the whole thing to turn. Behavior modification is difficult because habitual behaviors are held in place by all of the above: feelings, beliefs, brain chemistry, even 'muscle memory'. Ever press the elevator button after it's already lit? Didn't make sense, but you just wanted to. Changing behavior can mean addressing any one of these "on-ramps" directly--or several simultaneously--to set up new habits. Therapy can increase the number of creative ideas for this change, keep the process honest and accountable, and help you with your self-discipline.

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body-mind (or mind-body) integration

Getting your head and your heart (or guts) to work together can be hard. People commonly talk about what they want, what their values are, and what they aspire to; yet they feel too frightened, angry, sad, ashamed, or stuck to live out those ideals. Other times, people have what cognitive behavioral therapists might call "dysfunctional beliefs" or "irrational beliefs" that lead to unwanted behaviors and consequences (such as continually holding back from others because you believe that others aren't trustworthy because a few important people in the past were extremely untrustworthy). Yet, often this approach of talking back to our irrational beliefs backfires and is not at all helpful. Newer CBT models (such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT) are different than older CBT models and rely on mindfulness training, listening to the feelings, thoughts and body sensations to get to a deeper "radical acceptance" to break free from the battle between your fears and hopes.

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boundaries

You may have grown up with a parent who didn't respect your boundaries: either taking you over or being too out-of-touch (or both). There is a "good enough" zone of closeness for each of us at any given time and this zone can be violated or we can feel abandoned (as kids or adults) in ways that do real harm to our ability to defend ourselves in the face of other people's needs and expectations (becoming a doormat); or that prevents closeness and intimacy (becoming a porcupine). Some people struggle by getting too close while simultaneously being deeply disconnected…and feel confused when other people either avoid or get enraged at them. Boundaries can be a big focus in therapy for some people as a way to balance a personal sense of strength and presence with the need for both tenderness and good defenses in relationships that matter.

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business, sales, and management

Some people work with me to improve their sales performance, business relationships, negotiation skills, management of direct reports, or relationships in a family business, family trust, or family foundation. Many successful businesspeople understand that the management of one's own feelings and being authentic and tuned in to others' feelings ultimately are the real keys to wielding appropriate and effective power in relationships. Tactics that rely on manipulation, bullying, intimidation, and cockiness can pay off in the short term while enemies collect in one's wake to sabotage future efforts--and certainly future happiness. Too often, the most financially successful people become the loneliest as intimacy takes a back seat to performance (usually, this imbalance starts in childhood for good reasons that we have to sort out). I help people learn long-term strategies for collaboration, win-win experiences that create loyalty, and a wise balance between competing needs and agendas that leads to trust and great leadership.

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childrearing

We swore we'd be different than our parents, and now we have the chance to screw things up in our own unique way. Let's just rip the band-aid off: We all make serious mistakes with our kids despite our best intentions. It's just too hard in real life to be the perfect parents we dreamed of. Worse still, we are often unconsciously acting out all sorts of bad patterns with our kids that we have no idea we are doing. You know those moments when you sound just like your own mother/father? Well, there are lots of moments like that you aren't even noticing. And sometimes the cure (trying to be radically different than our parents) can be worse than the disease (paradoxically causing us to repeat the same mistakes). Therapy is a place to get much more conscious, clear, and smart about parenting, and coping with your stress and emotions in a way that won't leak all over your kids or deprive them of the close, safe, "good enough" attachment to you that they need and deserve. It's also a place to replace your guilt and self-reproach with concrete steps for effective discipline and appropriate compassion for yourself and your children.

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couples/marriage therapy

Couples I work with range from relationships on the brink of total collapse to those who are doing very well as a couple but want to have even better tools for communicating and feeling safe, open, or sexually happy. I work with straight couples, gay couples, and lesbian couples. I have worked with a lot of couples who have spiritual or religious core values that inform their relationship (some people look for a "Christian Counselor" and are surprised to find a secular therapist helping them deepen and cultivate a sanctified life). I am sometimes available for more intensive work such as longer sessions or several sessions per week for couples in crisis or who just need more time. For some couples, tools and skills have been missing. Other couples have already done the exercises and learned all the skills but these haven't even scratched the surface of what the core problems are. In every case, I work to get at the heart of what needs to change so that each person leaves feeling clearer, stronger, and more satisfied with their relationship.

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depression

There's a lot to be depressed about. Ironically, that can be difficult to fully appreciate if you have been focusing on "getting over" your depression. You may be so tired and low that you don't want to work on (or obsess about) it anymore, you just want it gone. Even if hopelessness and aching feel like they have no purpose, you can bet that they started for a good reason (although the initial reasons may have long since passed). Honoring the feeling in the right way is important: When we are feeling alone, wounded, unloved, or unworthy, we need--but we doubt--assurance that we are capable of finding meaning, connection, and hope. How can we feel these good things if the attitude we take toward our own pain is ridicule or anger? This is important: People don't want to be kind to a part of themselves they've come to hate. It can be very difficult to soften, to love, to open. That's partly why people stay depressed. Here's a nondepressing thought: Even if you have had therapy before and didn't find your way out, it's likely a problem with the fit with your therapist(s), not that you are an 'impossible case.' Trust me on that.

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eating issues

A number of my clients have come because of the emotional eating they've done to cope with feelings or to stuff their feelings. With apologies to Quentin Tarantino: Food is good. Ice cream is good. When life feels so desperately yucky, we need some yumminess in our lives. Like all addictive substances and behaviors (shopping, gambling, porn, alcohol, drugs, Facebook), the desired effect (relief, soothing, escape from pain) isn't necessarily wrong. Rather, it's that this need and vulnerability can be so easily exploited by our brains (or profiteers) to do things that cause harm to us. There are many good books and methods to help people confront the inner feelings that people try to manage with food (Geneen Roth's books come to mind) but many people find the continual interaction and reflection of psychotherapy necessary to provide the proper balance between challenge and support to face what's inside.

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emotional regulation (& bipolar disorder)

This is a huge topic and has undergone a lot of growth in the past 20 years with more emphasis on brain research. It's too bad, because that research has led to a lot of chemical experimentation which has been helpful to some, but has complicated matters for many. Emotional regulation is central to mental health and is at the core of everything from Freud's earliest theories to the most recent cognitive-behavioral techniques. Our need to manage and control how we feel has a huge influence on our thoughts and behavior. The less safe or in control our emotions feel (fear, sadness, joy, anger, shame), the stranger our behavior becomes. We can develop fear of our feelings (that they will take us over, or make us seriously crazy), we can become excessively controlling (of ourselves and of others), we develop physical symptoms (strange rashes, immune system problems, disturbances in appetite, migraines, aches and pains), act out in various ways, and find life totally unsatisfying. Methods for increasing the ability to regulate emotions involve mindfulness and different techniques for getting more awareness, tolerance, and mastery of how we work with these strong currents of feeling, feeling that should come to fuel our sense of peace and joy, not run wild or be suppressed.

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existential issues

Existentialism is a vast and complicated area of philosophy and psychology, but when we talk about people having an "existential crisis," we are usually talking about a struggle for a sense of meaning, purpose, and direction in life when faced with the anxiety of life being meaningless (or a deep feeling that because death is so certain and uncontrollable, there's no point in trying to do much of anything in the meantime). For people who haven't faced this struggle, that kind of anxiety or immobility can seem like moping and whining. It's not. It actually comes in part from having a human brain, which presents us with the complication of being able to imagine, worry about, and contemplate our own death. Like flying in an airplane, most people would agree that it's best not to focus too much on what's actually going on if we want to enjoy ourselves. But sometimes life sets us up with a kind of awareness that takes away our comfortable denial and leaves us at a loss to know what to do with ourselves (Ernest Becker wrote a book called The Denial of Death about this). Want the nutshell version of this kind of crisis? Read Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

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extreme stuckness

It has surprised me that one of the biggest responses I get from physicians and patients alike is how much this phrase "extreme stuckness" stands out to them as something they relate to. I consider this my specialty because I have worked successfully with many people that have worked with a large number of therapists unsuccessfully prior to working with me. They had come to believe or were even told (in the words of my colleagues, Barry Duncan, Mark Hubble, and Scott Miller) that they were "impossible cases." It's important for therapists to be extreme optimists about their clients' capacity for change, since this optimism along with methods and skills for facilitating change is what helps clients get where they want to go. Yet it is also just as important for therapists to know how to "fail successfully," which also means knowing the difference between failing to be of help as a therapist and the client's capacity to be helped. No therapist is helpful with every client, and when I am not effective at helping someone, this has almost no bearing on a client's capacity to get where they want to go (just that I'm not the guy who's able to help them get there at this point). Know this: if you have not been helped by therapy (even by a large number of therapists), it's still probably not about you. Move on, remember that the options for change may need to be more creative than you had imagined (several clients have been shocked, for example, by what martial arts or joining a church could do for their well-being, never having imagined themselves doing things like that), and keep going to find what you need.

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grief

Grief is the time that we drop to our knees and give up struggling with our strong desire to be able to control our world and prevent horrible things from happening to us. If denial is an unwillingness to recognize how bad it feels, and anger is a refusal to accept how bad it feels, real grief is the relinquishment of both our avoidance and our protest into a collapse that actually allows us to complete the feeling of loss and sadness, clean ourselves up, and move forward with an open heart again. After having lost so much, every joy carries the shadow of what can ultimately come of the most wonderful things. Do we avoid the joy, then? A child's book by Eileen Spinelli says, "When you are lonely, I will show up at your doorstep with my heart in a basket." Sharing grief with other people who know how to grieve is part of what people are for.

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identity

I work with many adults who are struggling to really know themselves: The 20-something who is at a loss about what to do with his life after having gone through college or having had a few meaningless jobs. The 30-something who had followed the path set up by her parents about who she was supposed to be, and realized that this was not who she actually is. The 40-something who has lived in a certain way, as a certain person, but who now feels hollow and empty inside as if the whole thing has been fake and a panic sets in. The 50-something who lacks a sense of intimacy after the kids have gotten older and she's not needed in the way she used to be. The 60-something who is supposed to be thinking about retirement one day but is dreading the next phase of life because he doesn't know what purpose life has beyond work. A clear sense of self (who we are, what we stand for, who we serve, what our mission in life is) is very important to well-being. It's even helpful if you practice a spiritual tradition of "no self" or a highly creative path: being able to master the rules is critical to being able to masterfully throw out the rules. For creatives, there is nothing clever or beautiful about having no clarity or structure if it's not done with vision and purpose. For the rest of us, having a clear sense of identity simply reduces our anxiety and increases our satisfaction with life, relationships, and the ability to get up in the morning.

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infertility

Infertility remains a very private, secret experience for a lot of people, even though the number of people struggling with it increases as more people try to have children later in life. Infertility is caused by a number of things (age and genetic issues are two big causes) and can be a massive source of guilt, shame, and tremendous grief and fear for men and women. The tests, procedures, losses, and relentless challenge of it all take their toll on a lot of relationships. Nerves are frayed, questions emerge about the strength of the marital bond, core values are questioned as different costs and risks are argued. Seeing a therapist can provide you with your own support, and help you sort out your values in a less emotionally tense atmosphere, and without the well-meaning but infuriating comments and suggestions you may be getting from friends and family ("you just need to relax and it'll happen"; "it'll happen if it's meant to be"). Couples can find therapy helpful to reduce the stress between you and regain your sense of working on the same page, hearing each other, and being a team (you need that!).

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infidelity & affairs

Affairs are a trauma provoked by loneliness and indulgence. I have worked with many people on every side of infidelity, and with many couples through their healing after an affair. Affairs are a deep betrayal of our belief that we can fully trust the limits on our partner's (or our own) behavior. Once this essential rule is broken in a relationship, it's like the bottom falls out completely on what we can believe anymore. Yet, people who have affairs are usually going through their own crises as well: feeling unloved, alone, desperate for connection or reassurance, at a loss about how to get their essential needs met. The discipline of commitment and fidelity is in knowing that statistically there will always be someone else 'out there' who is a better match in some ways yet continually choosing to stay and improve the connection you have. When all seems broken or at a stalemate, that's what couples therapy is for: bringing about profound change in your relationship. After an affair, couples and/or individual therapy serve to work through the loss of trust or safety, the sense of shame, guilt, anger, and resentments that each partner may feel. Ultimately, a lost innocence is accepted along with clearer boundaries, communication, openness, and power in the relationship. These, in turn, can lead to a rebuilding of trust.

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intimacy & openness

Anyone not afraid of intimacy and openness either has never been hurt in their connection with others (and who might that be?), or has no real sense of what intimacy means. If we have felt the hurt or shame of having our open heart rejected, then naturally it becomes scary to take the risk of being open-hearted. But this kind of risk-taking is what makes it possible to actually feel and benefit from real connection: the safety, warmth, togetherness, and the comfort that relationships can provide us. Having been wounded (especially if it happened frequently) can cause people to build a wall instead of learning how to skillfully use a shield. We all need protection and the ability to distance or disconnect when it's appropriate, but there should be flexibility. Therapy can help you be more nimble so that you can defend yourself effectively against harm but also allow in the good things.

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leadership

A leadership expert named Kevin Cashman put it simply: Leadership doesn't come from being right, but from being real. Effective leaders have many qualities but first and foremost they are more fully themselves and know how to express who they are without apology or embarrassment; and yet they aren't so full of themselves that they lose or misperceive their connection with others. The balance between being more fully in contact with one's own values or mission in life, and being open to and facilitative of other people's growth and self-leadership can be learned in many places, including psychotherapy oriented to insight, practice, feedback, and reflection about how to grow one's own (and others') leadership qualities.

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masculinity & men's issues

Men are at least as emotional as women, and under the right circumstances can really show it. Men often have a hard time having a clear sense of what we are expected to be in terms of our roles (especially in terms of being emotional). There is a threat of shame hovering over any admission of weakness, softness, neediness, or other feelings that are "small" or not associated with a warrior ethic of strength, vitality, and fearlessness. The real weakness that's there is the fear of being seen as we really are. Adolescents are at that time of life when it can be extremely dangerous and foolish to show weakness and vulnerability. The reason why so many men still seem like adolescents is that they are stuck in this same fear and don't realize that being a man entails a reckoning with and acceptance of one's weaknesses, rather than wearing the teenage mask of being cool, strong, and clever with no wounds or flaws. (Some women play into this with their own 'stuckness' in a girl's fantasy of what a man is that hasn't developed into a woman's idea of what men are for.) The 'whole man' owns his strengths rather than retreating from them, but also owns his fear, sadness, and anger in a clear and honest way that allows others to connect and support him appropriately. Therapy can help a man explore some of these issues, and how to attain a deeper level of maturation with a supportive and challenging but nonthreatening helper.

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mindfulness

Mindfulness means being reflective and purposefully experiencing what's happening, without distracting oneself or acting out one's felt impulses. This can be hard to do under the best of circumstances, but when severely anxious, stressed, or in pain, it can be agonizing and heroic. It can also pay off big, providing a way out of addictions, compulsions, and a nagging sense of shame and weakness. Meditation is just one path toward mindfulness, and not the only path. Meditation may look peaceful, but for many people who practice it and go deep, there's a war being dealt with in there.

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narcissism: masks of grandiosity & shame

Narcissism is not a fancy word for being full of oneself. It's the opposite: a secretly empty feeling that desperately and constantly needs filling up. Narcissistic behavior may be irritating to other people, but to the person who's struggling with their own narcissism (congratulations!), it's a humiliating swing between grandiosity and shame. The way out often involves returning bravely to one's essential sense of smallness to encounter the emotional experience of what was so dangerous or inadequate there, getting full support in this encounter, and learning how to more authentically tolerate one's humility and to feel connection with others in a way that is more vulnerable and real (but also safe and dignified).

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OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a particularly locked-in form of anxiety that provides its own 'as-if' solution in the form of superstitious rituals that help a person pretend they could actually have control over a crazy, dangerous, uncontrollable world. If you think about it, it's pretty understandable: it's a very human desire to have simple rituals or thoughts that--if we just repeat them enough--would do away with the fear deep inside of us. But it's an addiction to a false god of relief. And breaking it is extremely difficult, taking tremendous will and discipline. Are you ready?

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parenting

Please see the childrearing section.

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premarital counseling

Whether you are required, strongly encouraged, or simply have the good foresight to tackle some issues so you can strengthen your bond before the official (or unofficial) commitment to each other, premarital counseling can be very rewarding and reduce the stress of marriages and commitment ceremonies. Even if it just makes you feel like more of a team in the face of family craziness that is sure to erupt around the planning and execution of your big day, it can be worth it. Quite a few people come to therapy not because they are in deep distress but to strengthen what's already good because they want the tools for clearing out junk from the past, for healthy conflict resolution, and for safe, open communication when feeling vulnerable.

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self-discipline

There used to be an old cartoon that got Xeroxed and posted on office walls before the days of email. It said: "The beatings will continue until morale improves." Trouble is, a lot of people do that to themselves (emotionally beating themselves up) thinking that this will improve their performance. Nope. Here's a better idea: learning how to feel actual joy in the small accomplishments and feeling there's a fun, conquerable challenge in rooting out or overcoming the problems, weaknesses, or hurdles in the way of your goals. The methods for doing this are different for each situation, but optimizing how you relate to yourself while focusing on your tasks is crucial for mastering self-discipline.

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self-esteem & self-confidence

Narcissism and arrogance are no substitute for a grounded, real confidence in oneself as truly good: flawed but totally acceptable. Confidence breeds trust in others when it is grounded in something real. Arrogance and self-importance can also be attractive to others who hunger to be near someone who seems powerful, but it eventually leads to unhappiness when the curtain is eventually pulled back on the fraud being committed. Self confidence is not the same thing as self esteem, but they are related. To be confident is to feel capable and empowered to be able to make things happen (while retaining a sensitivity to the agendas and needs of others, which narcissistic individuals have a difficult time doing). Self-esteem is the sense of our simple inner goodness that causes us to genuinely love ourselves and accept ourselves on a deep, fundamental level. If we have that deep sense of being okay and belonging in the world, then this tends to breed self-confidence about taking risks, making things happen, and having a sense that we might deserve or get what we hope to achieve. And even more, if we take risks and they don't work out, our confidence can soothe our hurt, anger, or embarrassment to help us recover, get back up, and do it again.

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sexuality & sexual intimacy

There are a number of psychological problems that can come from a variety of medical diseases, and sexual problems are one of them (by the way, erectile dysfunction isn't a disease, it's just a technical sounding name for an undesired situation that people sometimes take pills for). Actual diseases can cause problems in sexual functioning as well as depression and anxiety symptoms, problems concentrating, etc. A physical exam by your physician is always a good idea to rule out potential medical causes. All kinds of psychological issues can also lead to problems with body functions (headaches, gastrointestinal distress, back pain, lack of sexual arousal, dryness, pain, and impotence are just a few examples). Often, sexual 'performance' issues can resolve relatively quickly if you have a supportive partner and if you can make some radical internal changes in how you approach your thoughts and feelings. Other sexual problems may have started further back and have more to do with fear, vulnerability, acceptance, and comfort with your body. These may require a more involved process of insight and a deeper change of feelings toward oneself.

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trauma (childhood, medical, sexual, accident-related)

There are many kinds of trauma, a life-threatening event or overwhelming experience that utterly violates one's sense of safety and trust in the world. There is recent trauma and long-ago trauma that still lives on (some trauma experts, such as Arnold & Fisch, have said we should stop calling it post-traumatic stress disorder because there is nothing "post" about it: one is still in the trauma). There is natural-disaster trauma and man-made trauma (another trauma expert, Shay, explains that man-made trauma is usually much worse because of the betrayal involved). There is trauma that comes from within (such as a life-threatening illness) and trauma that comes from outside (such as an overwhelming medical treatment for an illness). One of the universal experiences of being traumatized is the utter aloneness one feels as if everyone thinks they know you but not even you know how to relate to yourself or other people (in the case of childhood trauma, this is often a chronically awful reality rather than a terrifying shock). I have a list of films that depict trauma posted on my videos page and I caution any traumatized person about watching these because of the potential triggering effect. There can sometimes be a felt "pull" toward experiences that retrigger a traumatic response as if trying to scratch an itch. One of the hallmarks of therapy for trauma is the importance of a slow, safe pace to re-establish a sense of control and the capacity to regulate one's own arousal. Trauma is one of those things that doesn't just get better with time, and doesn't get better by analyzing it, pushing on the wound, or "toughing it out." It gets better by careful, sensitive work to regain mastery over your own body and your felt experience.

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weight loss

Here's your understatement of the month: Weight loss is a complicated matter. It requires a successful and totally genuine orchestration of behavior change, emotional realities, physical challenge, and the claiming of a deeply held nutritional philosophy. This is a good fit for my sometimes 'in-your-face' approach to therapy but as with other massively hard to change processes (such as chemical addictions) requires a kind of readiness to experience agony that many people just aren't up for. Therapy can help a person ready themselves for this kind of change-agony partly by providing a caring person to hold you through it. But I also look at weight loss as a result rather than the goal. Often, when people come in specifically to lose weight, it is not particularly successful; but when people who are morbidly obese come in to work on deeply seated emotional turmoil, somehow the weight starts coming off 'organically' as their reasons for their emotionally based behavior start to change on a deep level and it's not even that effortful. Everyone is different, but my philosophy of treatment is that the more one fully opens to the truth inside (whether it's a joyous truth, a mortifying truth, or a swirling combination of pain and revelation), the more one will feel a basic acceptance and the most simple kind of love; and this is what makes one's actions automatically committed to an awake and unrelenting respect for one's body.

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