Monthly Archives: May 2011

Strength or Vulnerability

It’s not uncommon for people to sit in my office, feeling very down emotionally, and tell me they believe they are weak. I don’t believe any of us are weak. We are often vulnerable, however. One of benefits of therapy is to acknowledge our vulnerabilities. We can only become stronger when we can identify those areas – then decide how we can change them.

When we say the things that others want to hear, regardless of our own truth, or allow others or our environment to dictate how we behave, we might see ourselves as weak. As I’ve studied human life and explored my own sense of spirituality, I’ve come to understand that most of us have to go through these periods in order to experience how that feels. Our world is one where we often learn from opposites, so when we’re finally tired of feeling the way we feel when we aren’t living in our own truth, we’ll be motivated to change. That’s a process – and often a very slow one. But when we recognize that it’s OK to be who we really are, we’ll naturally be drawn to making the choices we need to make.

People respect strength, but they identify with vulnerability. Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s getting in touch with our humanity.

Strength is operating from effectiveness – with integrity and truth.

Here’s an affirmation of strength I’ve found and use: I am a valuable, important, significant being. I am here for a purpose. If anything or anyone gets in the way of my getting on purpose, I do not have to allow them to interfere. I say that with respect and kindness.

Being a Victim

This topic comes up quite a bit in my sessions. We’re all victimized from time to time. But we don’t have to remain a victim. Many people don’t make that choice. We allow ourselves to be manipulated by others – family, bosses, friends, store clerks, etc.

Being a victim is a habit. It comes from a set of beliefs – that we have to fit in, or that we aren’t allowed to be angry or we don’t deserve to stand up for ourselves. . . .

There are many ways to remain a victim: operating from weakness, being stuck in the past, being stuck in family values or institutional values that don’t fit us, being intimidated or bullied by others. Or some people may be very assertive, but become victim to their own beliefs – making their work, or money, or things – more important than people and their own sense of peace. And some of us victimize ourselves by abusing our bodies with substances, too much or too little food, not enough rest or exercise, or too much stress.

Sometimes families – or the communities in which we live – attempt to force values on us. Who we have to love or hate, how we have to behave. In order to pull ourselves out of the victim role, we have to be able to look at those values and decide for ourselves who we want to be. Maybe we did grow up with some values that fit us, but there are probably at least some that don’t. That doesn’t make anyone right or wrong. It just makes us individuals. We’re each unique with our own path and our unique gifts to share with the universe. If we just unconsciously incorporate others’ values as our own, we might completely miss the opportunity to contribute in our own distinctive way!

We only remain a victim if we allow “them” to do it to us.

Declare your independence. Change your expectations of yourself. Don’t accept the role of thinking you must fit in. Those who make the biggest difference in this world are the ones who are different in some way, and celebrate that. You are the product of the choices you make.

As long as we’re not hurting anyone else, no one has a right to interfere with anyone living their life the way they want to.

Are you a victim? Do you have a wishbone – or a backbone?

What I do

Here’s a question I get a lot: “How can you do this every day – listen to everybody complain?”

I’ve always felt that what I do is a privilege. I’ve been witness to many people finding sobriety and thriving in it – from all kinds of addictions; to survivors of abuse finding a level of peace they never thought they’d experience; and to people coming out to their families – and to the families coming to terms with what that means to them as a unit.

Most people have no idea how gratifying it is to just be a small part of those experiences. I get to see them every day. I feel incredibly honored that people choose to become vulnerable in my presence. It shows great trust, but even greater courage – the kind of courage I’m not sure I could muster, if the roles were reversed.

Sure, I have those days when I have stuff going on in my own life & I just want to say, “You think you’ve got problems? I’ll tell you about some problems!!” Those are the times I have to practice what I preach, and do what I know works for me to manage my own emotions and life.

But today is one of those days when I just become overwhelmed with gratitude that I’m allowed to do what I’ve wanted to do since my junior year in high school. (That’s been a couple of years now). I give thanks to my clients for trusting me and to my higher power for expecting so much from me.


‎I’ve been struggling between being thrilled that Osama has finally been caught and not wanting to celebrate anyone’s violent death, regardless of how horrible that person was. I would rather choose to honor our US intelligence, military and President for accomplishing this very difficult, but necessary task.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr


A client recently mentioned this term that she had come across in her reading. She wasn’t aware that it originally came from Carl Jung. If you’re not familiar with it it means the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear to be significantly related but have no obvious concrete cause.

For instance, I once had a client in my substance abuse program who’s wife contracted breast cancer and died soon after he finished the program. Because his sobriety was so new, we stayed in touch as he moved through the grief process. We became very connected. Invariably, he would call my office exactly when I was thinking about him and wondering how he was doing. In the 12 Step Program we sometimes use the term “it was a God Thing” for the same type of occurrence.

As I reflect on this concept, I realize that I’ve seen more and more synchronistic events play out in my life as I progress in my personal and spiritual growth. Something happens that can’t be explained logically. Sometimes it’s when I finally let go of the obsession about whatever situation I think is causing me pain at the time and do something different. (Very often that “something different” is doing something for someone else who is also in pain). But if I am being consistent with my spiritual practice and meditation, I can experience such happenings several times in a single day.

I believe we all have these instances in our lives – but we only see them when we’re looking for them. When I’m not being as consistent with my disciplines, guess what – it feels like I’m stuck and nothing good is happening. But the reality is that I forget to be aware. I get sidetracked by everyday lists and chores and get caught up in feeling overwhelmed by life instead of taking charge of it.

Take a few minutes today to just connect to whatever you believe in. Allow yourself to be still and listen instead of feeling like you have to constantly be doing something. Then see if you aren’t a little more aware of your surroundings – and a little more at peace.