A Sex Therapist's Curse and Blessing

Getting defined by your profession is something that appears to be a natural inclination of the general public- as irrational and benighted as it is.  While a person may certainly be more knowledgable in areas that they have formally studied this study does not define their personhood.

As a sex therapist, titles, assumptions and ignorance have surrounded me.  Thoughts and comments from others such as “Oh you must do everything” or “You must know everything” to “I bet you hear all the juicy stuff.” Ummm…..No, No, and are you for real? I take my work very seriously. I value the depth and layers of people and relationships. I do everything I can to help those that want to be helped and I take great pride in being able to do so.

The value of helping someone that has fear of talking about issues that are very personal to them is priceless. To see someone blossom and start or re-learn how to live their lives is the greatest gift. Yet, my work does not define me. I am a human being, like everyone else. I make mistakes, I have fears, I fall. I’ve become skilled in getting back up and learning from what life brings. I am a kid at heart. I am growth oriented and believe in applying knowledge in and from multiple disciplines, cultures, religions, ideas, ideals and so on.

So, defining someone by their work is not only short-sighted but inherently cretinous. We are ALL human beings before we are our work, our race, our orientation, our religion, etc. Human beings are layered deeply built from experiences, perception, gender, familial dynamics, the ways we learned to view the world.

So, before we judge someone by there work, religion, political affiliation, etc understand this: Diversity isn’t just about sexual orientation, gender identity and race. It is about understanding human beings.

Due Process

Something seems to have gone amiss as of late. The concept of fairness. Due process is defined as “A fundamental guarantee that all legal proceedings will be fair and that one will be given notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard before the government acts to take away one’s life, liberty, or property.” Due process involves both procedural and substantive aspects. We all want this. We all want to be treated fairly. However, that right and reason seem to disappear when our own emotions and biases get in the way. We see this a lot in politics, and the criminal justice field.

But, we see it in all areas of life, because we’re human. We even see it in therapy. Say, for example, you and your husband/wife go to see a therapist. That therapist sees one of you first (maybe because the other couldn’t make it to that appointment but will be present at the next- say a mandatory work meeting came up and if missed there would be consequences). Ok. So the therapist hears your side of the “story” and states you have some points. Due process requires the therapist to hear the other side to be fair and equal. If not the partner is automatically assumed guilty. That clearly isn’t the therapeutic process in couples therapy. Each person has a right to be heard, acknowledged and guided. Of course, this isn’t to say responsibility and accountability isn’t part of this process because it’s a huge part of the therapeutic process (but that’s for another blog- I’m staying simple with this one).

Point is, we need to be fair in all matters. When our emotions and biases get in the way we become ill-informed and we lose the balance of what’s right (and what’s wrong).

Fact of the matter is that people do lie (both males and females). So when our attention gets sucked up in public hearings (such as Kavanaugh) let’s take a moment and reflect on the concept of “due process” and try to put emotions aside as we are dealing with people’s lives. And, remember, that we need to objectively look at all sides and get out of the divisive mindset of males versus females. The “us against them” mentality. We’re human beings before we are a gender, race, religion etc.

Today make this your mantra “everyone, including me, deserves fairness.”

I personally think there is a freedom in looking at things objectively rather than subjectively.

Self-Responsibility

Just because you want the best for others doesn't mean they want the best for you (think "frenemies").  We've all experienced some form of this in our lives.  The big question is what did you learn from these situations in your life?  Self-responsibility is about recognizing life lessons and setting some healthy boundaries.  We all struggle with this at points in our lives in different areas be it relationships, work, and many other areas.  There have been countless times in my life that I've put myself "out there" for another person only to get bit in the ass.

There are countless stories from my clients and students of the hurt they've endured because they wanted to be there or help someone only to realize that the other person really didn't have their best interest in mind.  It's painful for sure.

Here are some things to think about with regard to the people you allow in your life (including lovers).

- Can you tell them personal things without them running their mouths and making your story a topic of conversation with others?  Trust is a huge factor in having the best interest (of another).  This should be a "no negotiating" concept in relationships.  If you can not trust a person consider putting your reality glasses on and examining what the relationship REALLY is.

- Does the person (people) celebrate your success?  You know the person that when you get a promotion they're like "YES! lets go out and celebrate!!" Then there's the person that isn't really excited and possibly uses it against you-i.e. "you think you're better than everyone else."  Most people want to share their successes with people who they feel are close to them in their lives. Undoubtedly, it is quite painful when we realize some people we have in our lives want us to fail or to stay on their level-misery loves company.  Point is NO ONE should make you feel bad about your personal growth, success, and joy!

- Can you talk to the person without them shutting down, tuning you out, changing topics, or texting someone in the middle of your conversation?  People who have your best interest in mind are engaged with you.  They are interested.  The conversation flows and feels positive.

The above are only a few examples and believe me if they are present, there are probably a lot more bad behaviors that are happening.  Often, we turn a blind eye or rationalize the behavior resisting what is right in front of us.

There are life lessons that happen everyday in relationships.  What are your biggest life lessons that you have been refusing to learn?

Do an evaluation of your friends, lover(s), colleagues even just using the above three questions as a starting point for your evaluation.  You will get a lot of information about where everyone stands.

Growth is imperative in life- not always easy but imperative nonetheless.

Expectations.

I read a blog this morning on "Releasing Expectations."  It got me thinking about personal expectations as well as how expectations can get us into trouble (be it any type of relationship, even with ourselves, or situations).  I think there is undoubtedly good and bad to having expectations.  First, the good; expectations can ground us, allow us to envision the future and put us in some level of a productive mode.  All good things for growth!

However, the not so good side of expectations always seems to rear it's head in the process.  Probably the most important downfall of expectations is how they influence real life situations.  Having expectations of how something "should" go is quite possibly doomed for failure.  What if?  What if the situation doesn't turn out according to your expectations?  Do you feel like a failure?  Do you personalize it?  Do you place blame? And is all of this destructive in your life?

Having a vivid imagination myself, expectations are something that I work to monitor daily. I certainly like to do some mental prep work before a situation but generally allow a flow to happen.  After all, you can't prepare for surprises.  This is often where people get jammed up. When a surprise happens that they didn't see coming- HELLO DEFENSE!!  And so the situation unfolds.

I have found that the further you distance yourself from your expectations the better. First, you don't get wrapped up in the "what ifs", second, you don't waste a lot of mental and emotional space, and third, you allow for "real time" discussions and experiences.  Not always to our liking but real nonetheless.  

The fact is that life will take you in many unsuspecting places. Adapting to those places isn't always fun but if you do your best the growth is undeniable.  Take a moment and try to let go of some expectations you may be holding on to. Breathe and release.  Accept the fact that not everything will work out in accordance to your ideas, wants and desires.  And...it's ok. 

Body Awareness

This morning I allowed my body 15 minute to do what it wanted to do.  I sat outside as the sun was coming up, firmly planted on the ground.  I didn't think about getting dirty or rushing to get coffee or what I have to do today.  I let my body direct me. 

As I sat there my body naturally wanted to take deep breaths- I allowed it.  I felt my focus go to my lower back-I allowed it.  I noticed some tension in that area- I felt it.  As I continued to focus in that area I noticed the tension easing up- I allowed it.  My body wanted to lay down- I allowed it. My mouth wanted to smile- I allowed it.  My eyes wanted to open- I allowed it. I stared up at the beautiful morning sky and breathed deeply- no question- I allowed it.  The feeling of peace and inspiration poured through my veins- I allowed it.

Too often we resist what our body's tell us.  The infinite wisdom that only we know, that only our unique bodies tell us.  Our rational mins will often step in and dismiss the wisdom that our bodies tell us.  Our bodies have an amazing capacity to do all kinds of things, like heal, kill bacteria, adapt, grow new cells, monitor breathing...the list goes on and on.  When we listen to our bodies we intrinsically know what to do.

This is the stuff that you can't get from conventional means.  This is information that you and only you, can harness. What your body tells you is not controlled by someone else and if you think it is, it is YOU that is allowing that.

Get connected to your body.  This is the key to knowing your true identity outside of all the information coming at you daily. 

Try it.  Set aside 15 minutes when you will not feel rushed and allow your body to do and feel what it wants.  Get to know your self.  Get comfortable with your self.  Repeat it several times a week.  It's the place where happiness lives.

Apply it.

7 Billion Belief Systems And You're Still Getting Offended?

We are living in a time where you can't say anything anymore without offending someone.  There are over 7 billion belief systems on the planet and many of us think our own is the only one.  God forbid you disagree.

Some people live their lives looking for things to get offended by.  They are often the people who look for chaos and negativity too.  You know the person- they could win a million dollars and they'd still be pissed off!  There's also the people who consistently look for disagreements and arguments with others- the saboteur. You're wrong, I'm right.  Facebook is full of these folks.

I've met thousands of people over the years that believe their belief system is right and there is NO other belief system, not recognizing the diversity of human beings.  These are the people that close themselves off to so many of life's possibilities.  They are closed off from growth, from connection, and from inner peace.

The rigid thinking that comes from not recognizing other's belief systems seldom produces positive results.  Nothing great ever came from rigid judgmental thinking.  And yet so many people are caught up in this way of being.  Sounds kinda shitty?

Think about this for a moment- Wayne Dyer stated "Have A Mind That Is Open To Everything And Attached To Nothing."  That's the problem-we get attached to the things people say and do and personalize it.  We own it like it's our own shit.  It's not. 

Does it really matter what the person is saying on Facebook? Does it really matter what someone does with their identity? Does it really matter who someone loves? Often times these people aren't even in our lives- yet we stand from a distance and judge them.  That's an unhealthy attachment if I've ever seen one.

If the person is in our lives and something they are doing has a direct impact on us (or so we assume) are the offensive thoughts we have justified?  Isn't it wiser to just keep moving focussing on your own life and growth?

 I learned this the hard way on Facebook.  It dawned on me a while back that people have their own opinions, thoughts and behaviors.  It doesn't concern me.  I move on now.  I am secure in my own opinions that I can listen to other's opinions in a detached way.  Something that took a while to learn.

My process was simple- The process that I teach others.

1.  I recognized that people have a right to live their lives any way they wish to live it, say what they wish, do what they wish. I am neither judge or jury.

2.  Ridding the negative people out of my life.  The ones who search for negativity, things to judge, and ways to get offended. I don't need them and neither do you.  If you do things that are hurtful to me, I let you go. Life is too short.

(If you are one of these people, recognize it and explore the reasons why.  If you feel angry more often than not explore the origins and learn with the help of a professional how to let go)

3.  Focussing on my own growth, health and wellness, and most importantly my own happiness.

Voila.  These are the stems to grow your self.

In reality it's a little more complicated than that.  It's a daily exercise.  It's about self-awareness and learning to appreciate yourself.  Letting go of the past and learning to stay present.  Finding things that bring you joy and do them. Learn to let to go of what other people think so you get out of the vicious cycle of "judge to be judged."

 

Knowing When To Let Go Of A Relationship

All types of relationships have their ups and downs- it's part of being human.  Good relationships have a positive impact on our lives. They thrive, they grow, they make us feel good (most of the time.  Bad relationships are draining and stressful Andean have a negative effect on our physical and mental health. Often times we stay in these types of relationships out of fear, thinking the person will change, or not wanting to hurt the other person.  Yet, we continue to hurt ourselves.

Truth time is asking yourself some pretty hard questions.  What do I really want from my relationship?  Does this person listen to me?  Do I feel good around this person? Consider whether this person acknowledges you, cares for your emotions, willing to change the behavior that hurts you?  Willing to talk about it?

Healthy relationships thrive on communication, mutual caring, honesty and fun.  If you feel negative more often than not it's time to do some serious evaluation of what you really want and whether your relationship is serving you in a positive way.  This is not a selfish mind-set.  This is self-care.  Too often I see people stay in unhealthy relationships and end up sick.  I have seen people start taking anti-depressants to stay in a relationship.  On the contrary, I have seen when people have gotten out of their unhealthy relationships many of their symptoms disappear.

Self-care comes in many forms.  From taking care of your body physically, to making sure you are relaxing and de-stressing, grounding, and making sure you are surrounding yourself with positive people.  Because we spend a lot of time with our relationships they often have a huge impact on our health.  It is time to do a life evaluation.  In the long run it will serve you well. 

Note:  Therapy is beneficial when a person wants to change but doesn't know how. Therapy doesn't work when a person doesn't believe they have any issues.

Warning: A Word To The Wise: Spelling Errors, Grammar Errors and Your Sensitivity

A Word To (And For) The Wise: Let it Go.

If you see any errors in any blog- let it go- Grammar police aren't cool.

Sometimes I am writing in a hurry and don't have time to check.  Sometimes I don't care about an error as long as the point has been made, sometimes I am just being lazy.  Let all of this go because YOU have your areas in your own lives where you do the same.  And, if you think you don't, you probably need a little dose of something called "self awareness."  

I am not a perfectionist by any means.  I process WAY too fast for perfectionism.  And, I am ok with it.

I like to teach people to learn to let go of the "small things."

Let go of things, that in the grand scheme of life, really don't mean much of anything.

Affect versus Effect is small potatoes compared to your health and well-being, relational life, sex life, human interactions, spiritual connection etc...

It's ok.