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Making the Holidays Work for You

I was about to launch into another character type description but decided to opt for lighter faire for the holiday season. You all have been quite patient with my intellectual ramblings on character types so you get a break in December.

What to discuss? This season does invoke contented feelings for me as I always appreciate colder, hopefully moister weather. I like the earlier darker nights I have always appreciated the flurry of seasonal lights. Many people dread the darkness and much prefer the summer’s sunny light. There are a multitude of other reactions to this time of year as there can be ample provocative triggers. Some people react to commercialism, others are reminded of uncomfortable family issues or have to navigate through family gatherings fraught with issues. Or the general pressures of holiday events and demands take a toll.

How can you make the holidays work for you? There is always lots of advice on adjusting to the stress of the holidays. I will add to the kibitzing and suggest that reducing your ‘compliant pleaser’ might be a helpful idea. Of course, the holidays demand some accommodation with family and friends — that is realistic. But some of us can take it to extremes where we lose our self to others and end up resentful, frustrated and disappointed.

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Rest and Relaxation

[Written during my year-end vacation]

How is your transition going as you start the New Year? I am fortunate enough to have an extended transition period to mid-January to slowly slide into the start of activities in the New Year. So I decided to write on the topic of rest and relaxation. What I am noticing is how important it is to have time and a place to unwind completely. Do we allow ourselves that ‘luxury’? Our belief might be that we must remain dutiful and ‘busy’ or risk everything falling apart. Sometimes we don’t actually know how to relax as we maintain a constant state of low to high-grade activity laced with anxiety and worry. Hyper-busyness is a defense against slowing to the deeper feelings and states that exist underneath the restless surface.

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Reich’s Concept of Contact


My blog has focused lately on a delineation of armoring and the seven segments of armor. I will move on to another relevant concept, contact, contributed by Reich to the field of psychology and psychiatry. Elsworth Baker in Man in the Trap aptly describes contact: “Contact requires movement of energy above a certain minimal level plus excitation. Where the organism is free of blocks there is a free-flowing plasmatic movement which gives rise to sensations (organ sensations) and a three-dimensional perception of the body.”

What does this really mean in our daily life? When we feel in contact with another, there is an exchange of energy, feeling, body sensation and excitation. An interesting personal, psychological, political or philosophical conversation can engender an experience of contact. Our cognitions, feelings, and body sensations intertwine and we feel ‘alive’ in the interaction. It can be a simple discussion between two people about prosaic items, like plans for dinner, an event you are going to, or a project you are taking on together, and you enjoy the mutual contact and exchange.

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Hey, What About Your Therapy Commitment?

Why is prioritizing your weekly therapy appointment the single most important factor to the success of your therapy? Many clients have difficulty managing their life; we can be driven by our own busyness. We can say, “There is always so much to do. I have children, a job, so many responsibilities to keep up with.” Sometimes, though, the busyness is really avoidance, by choice, albeit sometimes unconscious.

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The Dark Underbelly Beneath The Façade
The Dark Underbelly Beneath the Façade
June 4, 2013

The Dark Underbelly Beneath the Façade

The news reportage continues to grapple with shocks like the Boston Marathon bombings and the men who wreaked havoc on innocent people. How can it be that someone, particularly the younger of the two bombers, who appeared socially adept, friendly and an “average student Joe” could have a fanatical, dark underbelly and commit atrocious, murderous deeds?

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How Does Characteranalysis Differ from Traditional Analysis?


A major difference between these two modalities is that Characteranalysis lives and breathes in the here and now and interacts spiritedly with the blatant defensive style and chronic approach of the client.

We learn basic coping strategies early on that are reinforced throughout our lives.
These strategies are carved into our being both mentally and biophysically and create our interface with others. We unconsciously hone patterns of thought, feeling reaction and behavior that keep us afloat, but not as the master of our ship. Sometimes those patterns are hurtful both to our self and others because they are repeatedly destructive.

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Hopelessness as a Type of Resistance


Resistance to therapy often mimics a resistance to living. This can appear as a chronic feeling of hopelessness about our life in general, our work, our willingness to make changes. These thoughts and feelings subjectively seem like they express reality. Yes, if we have undergone a significant loss, an illness, a financial crisis or other sudden or substantial change, then the feelings of loss and despair make sense. 

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The Most Common Type of Resistance

The most common type of resistance to therapy is running; running so fast that you run yourself out of therapy. Many of us suffer from high anxiety and one way to deal with that is to stay over-busy in order to avoid our underlying difficult feelings (fear, depression, unmet needs, etc.). So we run from text to text, activity to activity, phone call to phone call, lists, over-work and addictions. As we run, we lose contact with our authentic selves and our unhealthy habits take over. 

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