Authenticity

Authenticity. What is it? What does it look like? How do we get there? How does it relate to counseling? Explore the meaning of “being yourself,” listening to your inner voice and intuition, and why so many of us fear living from our authentic core.

The more we’re in touch with our authentic self, the more energy and power we have to pursue what really matters to us. This is also how we find our purpose, our gifts and talents, and our ability to use them to create a life we really want!

A survey of those near the end of their lives revealed three things:

  1. They wished they had lived more authentically,
  2. Taken more risks, and
  3. Created more meaningful relationships.

Discovering, aligning with, and ACTING from our authenticity prevent us from having to deal with these regrets.

I invite you to learn more about how to deepen the most important relationship you have, the relationship you have with yourself!

For more information about my practice and some of my answers to other common questions I receive, watch the video above or view it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-3vABEiWAA.

 

How Do Therapists Sit With the Pain?

Many people often wonder how psychotherapists can sit with the heavy burdens and pain expressed by their clients. I want to take a moment to give my perspective on how this is possible for anyone to accomplish, if not do and feel they’ve had a rewarding, meaningful experience.

We’ve all been to some kind of party or gathering when we weren’t feeling our best. Given that it’s not always socially acceptable to let our true feelings show, participating at a social event in this state of mind, (especially with those we don’t know well) can be exhausting at best, excruciating at worst.

Then, when the Universe allows, or we’re open enough to see the opportunity, someone in the party appears to be genuine. There, in that moment, you might feel that it’s okay to be more fully yourself, to relax a bit, to not feel as compelled to participate in the “social dance” in which you find yourself surrounded.

We feel we can take at least one deep breath, possibly even realize we may not have been breathing fully at all. If we’re lucky, that person may talk about how they’re actually feeling or what they’re thinking (i.e., “I’m a little nervous at social gatherings” or “I’m annoyed with my boss”). This then gives us permission to be authentic as well. I will never forget my colleague’s quote, “Nobody real is boring.”

This experience can be easily compared to therapy. While no type of suffering is enjoyable, there is a meaningful interaction created when one shares themselves vulnerably and authentically. Every time I witness a client taking a risk (no matter how small) there is a sense of communion and presence that is palpable. Think of those times when a friend, coworker, or family member finally revealed to you a glimpse of their inner world and you felt that sense of connection. Feelings and thoughts simply are. Its what we do with feelings that is most important. If nothing else, an instant sense of respect and reverence is established. I, like other psychotherapists, believe it is a privilege to be part of peoples’ personal and spiritual growth process.

For more information about my practice and some of my answers to other common questions I receive, watch the video above or view it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_67awN9kok.

 

Why Do Women Love Bad Boys?

We’ve all heard the sayings “nice guys finish last” and “women prefer to be with jerks.” There is convincing evidence that in some cases this might be true. The reality is that basic needs are often met by the notorious “bad boys” that “nice guys” may be sometimes hesitant to deliver.

Bad boys are often described as edgy, mysterious, alluring, courageous, rugged, independent, sexy, confident, rebellious, and exciting. They are also thought of as rough, abusive, dangerous, arrogant, selfish, elusive, self-absorbed, insensitive, unreliable, defiant, disrespectful, naughty, and heart breakers. Regarding the more negative traits, it is important to note that all men struggle with certain personality flaws. In some cases stereotypical “nice guys” can be just as abusive, insensitive, and unreliable as their bad boy counterparts.

Why Do Women Love Bad BoysThe central theme underpinning these bad boy characteristics is the willingness to face conflict and set personal boundaries such as saying “no”. This implies the existence of confidence, or at least self-esteem. While confidence is developed from overcoming challenges and genuine effort, self-esteem is feeling good about oneself due to something they didn’t earn or work for, i.e. being told they’re attractive. If we don’t really feel good about ourselves, why should anyone else? This is clearly part of that elusive feeling we call chemistry.

The willingness to face conflict and set boundaries also indicates a form of strength. From an evolutionary perspective, there is a basic female desire to be with a man who can protect them from danger, at least physical. Furthermore, strength usually leads to respect. Respect is vital. When conducting dating coaching in my practice, I have heard many women report that they “just can’t get into a guy they don’t respect.” Bad boys are usually more willing and able to readily engage in conflict, even though it may be excessive or inappropriate when they haven’t done any of their emotional work.

Nice guys are often described as sweet, tender, supportive, respectful, sensitive, warm, and friendly. On the flip side, they have been viewed as weak, needy, emotional, over-sensitive, high-maintenance, and overall pushovers. If someone experiences another as weak and a pushover, deep respect can be near impossible to achieve. A classic, stereotypical nice guy (in the negative, undeveloped sense) may often attempt to avoid conflict and suppress any hint of anger or disagreement for the sake of being nice and friendly. They also tend to say “yes” when they really mean “no” to avoid upsetting their date. Unfortunately, this suppression of our anger and needs comes at great cost and can emerge at very inconvenient moments (perhaps a panic attack at 3:00 a.m. or passively-aggressively forgetting to follow through on an important commitment). True feelings will ultimately win and demand our attention, whether they’re expressed as anxiety, depression, and/or physical illness.

Research has shown that in photos as well as in person, female subjects view men as most attractive when they appear serious and do not smile, a little less so when they appear troubled/ashamed, and least when they’re smiling. Women tend to be viewed the exact opposite. Male subjects viewed women as most attractive when they were smiling/warm, less so when appearing troubled/ashamed, and least when they appeared serious and did not smile. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions in the preferences of both genders.

So can a nice guy find a nice woman without becoming a jerk? Yes. The key is balance. It is possible to strengthen or develop courage, confidence, independence, and protectiveness while also demonstrating sensitivity, kindness, and respect. Most critical is the willingness to face conflict and set boundaries, especially saying “no”. This is crucial to expressing ourselves fully and authentically as well as avoiding the natural tendency to sweep things under the rug. Developing these skills through relationship counseling for men can not only lead to more successful relationships with women, but can also lead to better mental health and overall sense of well-being.

 

What Are You Broadcasting?

What Are You Broadcasting?

Do you find yourself asking the following questions: Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep dating the same people? Why do I always end up in these situations? If so, I would encourage you to take a serious, courageous look at what you might be “broadcasting.”

Despite our best efforts to hide our true feelings or fears, we always communicate in one way or another. Communication researcher James Borg asserts that 93 percent of communication is nonverbal: “…the way you say something – using behavioral cues like facial expressions, pace, pitch, tone and posture – can say a lot more than the actual words you select.” So, with that in mind, it is important to uncover what we are “broadcasting” through our non-verbal cues. Once we have discovered what we are truly “saying,” is this something we’re genuinely willing to change?

Creating the same unhealthy situations and patterns in relationships is often the result of things we’re broadcasting without any awareness. This can be seen in many obvious, as well as subtle, ways. For example, driving behavior can reveal the driver’s emotional state so clear it might as well be written on a neon sign. How fast do they accelerate? Brake? Weaving? The tone and volume of voice is also very telling. Do people speak loudly, or so softly that they are practically inaudible? How do people put things down or close cabinets and doors? With an unnecessary amount of force or only what is required? Also, what about their breathing? Do they often sigh as if their time is being wasted when another speaks or do they frequently cut people off?

In order to be more aware of and influence our “broadcast” to others, it takes a willingness to get in touch with what we’re thinking and feeling on a regular basis. Are we angry, sad, frustrated, and worried, or are we feeling relatively calm, hopeful, and happy? The more we become conscious of our thoughts and feelings, we will have more choices available to us. How do we want someone to experience us when we’re communicating or simply in another’s presence?

There are several practical ways we can become more in tune with what we’re giving off energetically. A helpful exercise is to look in the mirror before starting your day. Relax your face and look back at yourself with a “soft gaze.” If someone was looking into your eyes, how do you think they would feel? What might they think? Now, it’s time to set your intention for the day. How do you want others to experience you: present, kind, impatient, or angry? Awareness of how we’re really doing is crucial if we want to have more choice. Whether that choice is how we project ourselves throughout the day, who we select as a life partner, or how we shape our relationships with our families and colleagues, our “broadcast” will always play a central role.