A Short Book List For Your Growth

The following is a short list of books I recommend for growth in all areas of life. The below list of books are some of my favorites that can really have a profound impact on your life, relationships, emotions, outlook etc. You can find all of them on Amazon just type the title and author into the search box and they will come up.

When it comes to books I believe you get the most out of them when you actually apply the principles (if you agree with the principles). Many people read books and they stay very cerebral with the information and it never transpires into application- the end result is - no change and no growth. Take these books seriously as they are all written by masters- some of the most influential people around!

There are so many more books I love but these are some I wanted to share at the moment!

 Louis Hay: You Can Heal Your Life

 Gabrielle Bernstein: The Universe Has Your Back

 Michael Singer: The Untethered Soul

 Nathanial Brandon: The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem

 Esther and Jerry Hicks: Ask and It Is Given

 Dr. Wayne Dyer: Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life

 Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit

 Brene Brown: Braving The Wilderness

 Mark Manson: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck

 Jen Sincero: You Are A Baddass

 Rick Foster and Greg Hicks: How We Choose To Be Happy

 David Schnarch: Resurrecting Sex AND Passionate Marriage (both books are amazing)

 Michele Weiner Davis: The Sex-Starved Marriage

 John Gottman- The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work AND

What Makes Love Last (Both of these are amazing)

 Michael Castleman: Great Sex

 Esther Perel: Mating In Captivity

 John Kehoe: Mind Power

 Tony Robbins: Unleash The Power Within- Audio Book

Your Inner Critic

Silence that BEAST!

 

Do you catch yourself saying “I blew it” or “I can’t believe I just did that?”  “I’m too old” “I’m not good enough.”  Does your brain start to rehash all of your mistakes and wrongdoings? When you succeed in something do you breathe a sigh of relief versus being full of joy at your accomplishment?

 

Some people have stronger inner critics than others.  Many people when they have a big success the achievement for them doesn’t feel genuine.  It’s their inner critic that squashes their joy and leaves them feeling fruitless.   The self-critic in you is harmful to your sense of well-being and needs some help.

 

Self-affirmations are a good place to start.  This involves redirecting our thoughts to our strengths and talents.   This is a great start to re-training your brain in a positive direction- but it takes dedication and work.  You can start with when you hear your inner critic bashing you switch your thinking to that amazing dinner you made last night, the wonderful organizational skills you have, the way you love other people, your drive, tenacity, etc.

 

Counter examples- In the face of self-affirmations your brain will provide you with many counter examples, ”but wait, your house is a mess your organization skills suck!” This is where discipline must come in and as much as I don’t like labels this is a great place to label your inner critic. The self- talk needs to switch immediately to “that’s just my inner critic again, no big deal, it’s about recognizing and letting go.

 

Self- compassion- Not many people practice this but it’s important for a happy life.  The fact is NO- ONE is perfect and we are all a little insecure. Recognizing this is important for self-care.  Too often we think what other people are thinking of us and comparing ourselves to others in a degrading way.  Being aware that everyone is “figuring it out” is a self-compassionate thought. Accepting the fact that YOU and everyone else grow in unique ways and your journey is special.  A great exercise here is imagine you were a dear friend of yours and that friend is going through what you’re going through.  How would you treat them and what would you say to them?  Now, go ahead and say those same things to yourself.

 

Take a break from social media- social media in and of itself is a direct path to yourself critic. I learned a long time ago that intermittent breaks from social media provides breathing room for negative thought patterns.  As a matter of fact, I personally take at least three social media breaks a year which can be anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks per break.  During that time, I go hard on inspirational books, personal growth such as goal setting, personal care behaviors (eating dinner in a calm environment, more exercise, researching healthy products, etc.), and mental health exercises (grounding, meditation, nature walks, etc.)- These are just examples. Social media breeds the space for self-comparison and self-doubt and takes up WAY too much of our time- time spent being productive!

Your goal is to act like the person you want to be so your brain starts to believe it.  Of course, you have to have a vision of who that person you want to be is.  Imagine for just a moment who you want to be.  Do you want to be happy and carefree? Healthy and energetic? Positive and loving? All of these?  In order to move forward you must be moving towards something- get your vision clear- write it down and look at it every day. 

 

If you practice these things above you are well on your way to making incredible long-lasting change to your inner critic and the narratives you create in your own life. And this my friends is what’s called “Alignment.”

Are You In A Healthy Relationship Or A "Hurried" Relationship?

I’m going to keep this simple. I want you to really think about this and be brutally honest with yourself.

A Healthy Relationship is on where you take the time to listen to your partner. You are present and aware of their needs. You actively search for ways to please your partner and make them a priority. When it comes to a gift you actively (consciously) put thought into the process of choosing what to get your loved one. You are kind, you express your feelings (the good, the bad, and the ugly) in a mindful way. You touch your partner regularly. You look at them with love (ever hear of a smile?).

A “Hurried Relationship” is, well, just the opposite. There is no thought (or not much). You don’t think about what would please them. You don’t listen to them (or rarely do). On Valentine’s day you do the status quo- roses. No thought. You’re not interested in touching them or seeing them happy and comfortable. Or maybe comfort is all you can give (or think you can give) through paying for material things. You are rarely positive, can be jealous of your partner’s success (happiness, friends, lifestyle, etc).

I see both types of relationships. Therapy is not (I repeat) IS NOT just about broken relationships- Often, healthy relationships want to improve even more (that’s some serious priority right there)! “Hurried Relationships” are usually in a 911 situation (whether they know it or not). You can not sustain any type of relationship with “Hurried Relationship” dynamics. You’re in your own way.

So, think about where you are. Again, be brutally honest because that’s where change happens. Once you see your SELF and your relationship with honesty, the next step is to figure out what you want. Do you want to stand still? Or do you want Healthy? What’s your vision?

Self- awareness is hard for a lot of people, change is even harder for some. It can be done though. Take the first two steps. Be brutally honest and what’s your vision?

Get at it!

Deb

What Are You Going to Do?

"...Life is too short to allow the violations, losses, misunderstandings, distortions, and disappointments of the past to dictate our course moving forward." -Dr. David Simon "Free to Love Free To Heal"

 

We are well into the New Year and I hope that you are doing AWESOME!  

It’s been a little while since I wrote because my schedule can get a little heavy at times.  Writing a blog has been gnawing at my brain for a couple months now and when I came across the above quote I knew it was time.

Life is short.  We know this.  Yet, we allow so many things to destroy our daily happiness and we hold on to it for years- sometimes a lifetime.  Violations, losses, misunderstandings can obstruct our future and leave us feeling bitter.  That bitterness is often pervasive and can rear its head in so many areas of our lives, such as our physical and mental health.

 So, as I think about how short life is and how so many people hold on to damage, I question how do you really get rid of the past so you can move forward?

 

I want to keep this as simple as possible.

 

First, the past has happened.  We can’ change it but we can change our decisions moving forward.  This is the first step and the most necessary. Often, not only what has happened to us haunts us but many people stay mad at themselves and get into a pattern of self-deprecating behaviors (negative self-talk).

 I read a quote many years ago that stated something like “If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend 5 minutes of your time on it.”  This is Second and it’s really important.  Is what you are spending your time obsessing about going to matter in 5 years from now? If the answer is No (it likely will be) then let it go.

 Third,Let It Go.  How the hell do you do that?  Well, after mastering the first and second above, the only thing left to do is meditate. Yes, meditate.  Get a guided meditation on letting go or forgiveness (these are easy to find on YouTube) and spend some time with it every day until the feelings subside (usually about a week or two).

 Lastly, DO NOT surround yourself with the people, places, and things that remind you of the situation.  Grow in a different direction. Become YOU. A new and improved YOU.

If you take these action steps you will move forward fairly smoothly.  Remember, if you take action you create movement. If you take no action, you stay stagnant.  What are you going to do?

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.