Inner Critic Doll

Building Ebenezers

Inner Critic Doll Sometimes you get a nudge from the universe. And sometimes that message comes in the form of a cute, squishy doll.

The past few weeks, I have been wrestling with my Inner Critic. I used to think of the Inner Critic in terms of something that got in the way of my writing by stifling my creativity. But creativity is more than just producing a story or a painting or a song. I’ve always believed that – or at least said I believed that – but I lately I have been developing a deeper appreciation of how living life and moving through the world is a creative act. And how my Inner Critic effects the way I do that every day.

I think of my Inner Critic as the part of me that is working overtime to keep me “safe.” And not in a good way. It’s almost like the…

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Your Life – Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?

People often come to see me to get help with some type of habit or feeling that is disrupting their lives. It can be anything from depression to smoking to hair pulling to procrastination to alcohol. The common thread is the sense that they are no longer in control of their own lives, and they want the ability to make healthy choices again without the influence of unwanted habits or feelings.

 A conversation I have quite often with them focuses on what the issue is and the amount of control or power it has over them and their daily lives. I ask “Who’s in the driver’s seat here? What has taken over your sense of personal power?” This never fails to start them thinking about ways in which they take a backseat and feel like something other than their own good sense is making their decisions for them.

In some cases, we liken the unwelcome part to a little devil perched on their shoulder, whispering in their ear, convincing them to go off course and give in to things that knock their lives off track. Some examples of things that whispering voice can say include:

“Go ahead…have one more drink. You can handle it.”

“This will be the last time you pick at your skin. You can quit tomorrow.”

“Yeah, there is a lot piling up on your to-do list. So just surf the internet a little bit…you’ll get to it later.”

“You don’t really want to exercise. Go back to bed…you’ll feel nice and rested later.”

“You’re never going to lose that weight anyway. Have another piece of cake.”


That little voice can have a big effect on what we choose to do, especially if it’s something we are struggling to resist in the first place. It’s easy to let those distorted messages prevent you from moving forward successfully into the life you want to have for yourself. I often ask clients if they can identify the voice. “Who does it sound like?” Sometimes it’s a critical parent, or teacher. Sometimes it’s the client’s own inner critical voice. Another common thread here is that those messages are typically not in your best interest, and fairly easy to dismantle once you begin to examine and challenge them.

So what does it mean to challenge a negative inner voice that steers you in ways you don’t want to go?

-First, as I say a lot, thoughts are just thoughts. They are not facts, and they may be completely untrue.

-Second, make a plan for your life. Set goals, make a Vision Board, anything you need to do to create the track you want to be on and stick to it. It’s easy to be steered off track if you don’t have one.

-Third, value yourself. Believe that you can chart the course you want to be on, and that you are not that little nagging, negative voice.

-Finally, face your fears. Fears are famous for sneaking up on us and chipping away at our best efforts. Don’t be scared to step up and take control of your life. If it feels scary, maybe it is. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. J

If that little voice starts to lead you and your one, precious life onto paths you don’t want to follow, you are the one in charge. Don’t allow anything or anyone to manipulate your strings like a puppet. When you are the one in the driver’s seat of your life, you have the freedom to choose a healthy and happy destination. Give it a try!

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This post is available on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/RaIz1Pmildo



Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop by Annette Pasternak

The Pluviophile Writer

5/5 stars.
ebook, 148 pages.
Read from January 17 to March 07, 2014.

This book is by far the most comprehensive, supportive and positive guide out there right now for Dermatillomania. I can’t say enough good things about this book!

For those that don’t know, Dermatillomania, orExcoriation disorder, can be defined as:

…an impulse control disorder characterized by the repeated urge to pick at one’s own skin, often to the extent that damage is caused. Research has suggested that the urge to pick is similar to an obsessive compulsive disorder but others have argued that for some the condition is more akin to substance abuse disorder. The two main strategies for treating this condition are pharmacological and behavioral intervention.” – Wikipedia

This is a condition that I have personally struggled with deeply. I can safely say that through my own methods I was able to battle this condition…

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Therapy Made Me Worse!

Clearly, as a therapist, I believe that therapy can work.  Whether for individuals working through life’s issues or for couples trying to improve their relationships, good therapy can provide the tools to get there.

That said, I have heard stories from friends and even my own clients of therapy where they not only felt it didn’t help, but perhaps even felt worse. So let’s talk about some of the most common reasons that can happen.

The first has to do with the fit between therapist and client. Some say this is the most important predictor of a successful outcome. If you have a therapist who is present for you, shows acceptance and empathy, listens well, and you are making progress toward the goals of the treatment plan you created together, you probably know you have a good fit. It doesn’t have to feel comfortable all the time – in fact, personal growth can be anything but comfortable. But they are there with you to offer the assistance you need to work through it. 

Sometimes it’s not a fit. This can be for any number of reasons, or no obvious reason at all.  Let me share with you some of the reasons that I’ve been told:

* The therapist had no experience in my problem, and didn’t seem interested in learning about it.

* She was always running late and seemed distracted. She took phone calls during my session.

* He took notes the whole time. Never looked at me, never said much.

* I live in a small community, and my therapist violated my confidentiality in a social setting we both share.

* She constantly told me what to do. I needed to find my own answers.

* He insisted we talk about my childhood, and I wasn’t ready. I started having panic attacks after our sessions – it was too much, too fast.

* She talked about herself the entire hour. I just sat there and listened.

Those are a few of the statements I have heard. Now, I have to take all of them with a grain of salt. The therapists in question were not present to explain their side, and I am certain there have been a few clients just as unhappy with me for one reason or another. It’s hard to judge what happened, but the fact that these are the clients’ perceptions make them matter.

There are some challenges that we, as therapists, experience with clients that can hamper the outcome of therapy, as well.  Maybe that will be another video someday. 

I am a fan of, for lack of a better word, shopping around a little for a therapist. There may be hundreds where you live, so starting with an online search in your area is a typical way to begin. Check out the practitioner’s profile, visit their webpage, and see if they offer a brief, free consultation. Before you call, make a few notes on your primary issue and the type of person you’d like to help you. Some people feel more comfortable with a male therapist, or someone who is older. A consultation isn’t a session, but it can give you a chance to get a sense of the therapist and to express your needs and goals. Many people give more research to the choice of a car mechanic than they do when they choose a psychotherapist, so prepare a little and have an idea of what you need.

I have to add again that even the very best therapy is going to feel uncomfortable sometimes. You may be discussing deep-seated, painful issues. But you should feel that your therapist is present and engaged in what the process is like for you.

If you are experiencing dissatisfaction with your therapist, it is absolutely okay to bring it up. “I notice our sessions are only 30 minutes, because we routinely start late every week. Can we talk about that?” or “What I would like most to focus on is my marriage. Can we discuss that today?” or “I feel this is moving too fast for me. I want to explore my past, but I am struggling with how worked up I am when I leave each session.”  Good therapists welcome questions and ways to collaborate on the process. That’s our job. When there are questions or roadblocks, often working through them together can be a great benefit.

If there is truly no fit between client and therapist and you can’t work it out, it’s okay to switch providers. This is your journey. Your therapist can provide you with a few names of other practitioners, and there should be no hard feelings.  You have every right to the best therapy you can find. So identify what that looks like for you, ask for what you need, and keep making progress. 🙂

What do the letters after my counselor’s name mean??

LMFT (or MFT) Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

LPCC: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Ph.D: The person holds a doctoral degree. Check to see if they are a Licensed Psychologist or hold one of the licenses above

Psy.D.: The person holds Doctor of Psychology degree

M.D.: Medical doctor. Psychiatrists are medical doctors.



Dandelion fights


dandelions 3

They fight on my sofa.

The themes are familiar.  He never listens to me.  She won’t stop trying to control me.

Thirty minutes, this goes on.

Finally she breaks down and sobs, and he stares angrily off into space.

 “Do you guys have a lawn?” I ask.

Betty wipes her eyes, looks at me.  Bob, suspecting  I’m crazy, frowns.

“With dandelions on it?” I continue.  “What happens when you mow dandelions?  Right.  They come up again tomorrow.  Because to remove a dandelion you have to dig up the root.

“This is a dandelion fight,” I say.  “You keep having it for the same reason you can’t mow dandelions away.  You’re not getting to the root.”

“What root?” Bob asks.

“Two roots, actually.  One’s emotional: how you feel right now.  You guys never talk about that.  Betty, what are you feeling right now?”

She sniffles.  “Like he doesn’t love me at all.”

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Therapy should not leave you better adjusted.

* * *

She’s a new client, and clearly involuntary.  She doesn’t want to be here, and doesn’t trust me, and it’s making me nervous.

“So,” she says.  “What’s your job?  As a therapist, I mean.”

No one’s ever asked me this before.

I know this, I think.

But no answer comes.

I feel like an idiot.

Then into my mind pops an image: of all things, the David.  (Thank you, unconscious.)   And suddenly I have my answer.

 “It’s something like how Michelangelo described his job,” I said.  “He said the job of the sculptor was to free the statue from the stone.  That’s kind of what therapists do.   Try to scrape away everything that isn’t the real person — fears, and defenses, and the lies we’re all taught — so the real person can come out.  Something like that.”


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