When You're Afflicted with the Disease to Please

Many clients I see in my practice in the South Bay are pleasers. They come in all forms: the ones who want to be their kids' best friend, the ones who want to be the most successful attorney at their firm, or the adult who simply hasn't let go of needing to be the "favored" child.

Our need to please usually starts in childhood. We do something pleasing, we get positive reinforcement- and we're hooked! However, this desire to please others often gets carried away and we lose sight of what it is we authentically want.

Many of my clients are riddled with guilt, anxiety, depression, loss, grief, sadness, and resentment after years of valuing someone else's comfort over their own...and that's what it is really, right? We are saying "I value your comfort over my own. I value you having peace of mind over me feeling that I'm living a life of authenticity."

So how then does one break the spell? The following are seven simple steps to break free from others'
demands and start to live the life YOU ultimately want:

1) Identify what areas and key relationships in your life, where people pleasing has run amok.

2) Assess what it is you might be doing differently, if their being pleased with you was a non-issue.

3) Begin to have a dialogue with those you've carried this unhealthy dynamic out with, and let them know that you are going to make an effort to curb your people pleasing tendencies. Most people are way more open to your change and less likely to take offense, when you let them know- this change is not about them, it is about you.

4) From now on, when someone asks you for a favor, a question, or something that triggers that gut instinct to please- simply say "can I think about it?" Give them a designated time when you will answer their request. Oftentimes, if we can give ourselves some space- we can step back and truly evaluate what it is we want.

5) When you've given yourself an adequate amount of time, follow through with the potential "please-ee," and let them know what you've decided.

6) ** This might be the most important step: Allow yourself to feel a bit of discomfort with the decision
you've made. It is likely you will begin telling those around you that you cannot help them at the same level you were, or that you can no longer be a part of whatever unhealthy dynamic you were once a part of...Many are not going to be happy with this, and you have to allow yourself to sit with the discomfort that will come with making others displeased. Knowing, that at the end of the day- you will ultimately have your peace of mind as well as a life that is authentically your own.

7) Let go of the need to be liked by everyone. Most interesting people in history, or people worth knowing- weren't well liked by all. See this "letting go" as a giant leap toward surrounding yourself with only those who will like you for you, instead of what you can do for them.

 

Sex and Why You're Not Having it

 

5 Ways to Rekindle Your Spark Today

The Sexual Landscape of Most Couples Today

Many couples that come in to me for help, come in with sexual desire issues. They understand that their sexual relationship with each other is not quite what it used to be, but don’t know how to fix it.

Some believe “if only my partner would change, we wouldn’t have a problem.” Many people subscribe to the new car theory of relationships, assuming “if I only was with someone _____ (more attractive, more sensitive, more ambitious, more involved with the kids, etc) I would be happier.

The reality is that everyone reaches sexual desire issues in a relationship if they stay together long enough. It is actually a sign that things are going right. Yes, if we are together with one person long enough- we will hit a tipping point, where our self-growth must take place in order for us to move forward. Problem is- many of us don’t want to put in all that effort of changing ourselves and would rather just change our partners.

Sex as a Matter of Life & Death?

Freud conceptualized our internal conflict as coming out of two things; eros and thanatos. In Greek mythology eros was the personification of love, sexuality, life energy, and reproduction, while Thanatos was the personification of death. So in essence, when we aren’t having sex- we’re dying.This is why, if you leave sex and passion out of your relationship for a long time, you may find yourself subconsciously “stirring the pot.” You might be drumming up fights for no reason, dragging out baggage from the past, or to a larger extreme- engaging in an emotional/sexual affair outside of the relationship.

We all share the common need for eros, passion, life, and sexuality. The problem is- our partners soon create an atmosphere that seems counterproductive for achieving that.

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Til’ Death Do Us Part
When we take our vows- we make a commitment to our partner to love them unconditionally, forever. So, as soon as we do this- we regress back to what we know- childhood. What other relationship provides us with the expectation of unconditional love and security forever?

Now we are presented with a problem. How do we sustain a robust sexual and erotic dynamic in a relationship that now is akin to the one we got from our parents?

When we trade the insecurity, uncertainty, and instability that comes with new love for security, safety, and stability that is our implicit agreement in marriage (or long term partnership/companionship)- we lose eros. We lose the erotic, anticipatory will-he-come-back-tomorrow, type force that is present early on in relationshipsCan We Have it All?
My answer is “yes, but it doesn’t come as easily this time.” There is no magic “spark” or “flame” that can be flipped back on like a light switch. It takes concerted and repeated hard work. The work must be put back in to cultivate a relationship with your partner that goes beyond being roommates. However, I have seen that transformation take place with many couples.

Here are 5 ways you can begin recreating the spark again:

1) Remember when we used to spend hours listening to our partner? Now after riding the bull of life- we are lucky if we get two seconds of eye contact before turning out the lights. Try to give your partner 10 minutes of uninterrupted listening time. Ask questions, be curious, be genuinely and authentically interested in what they are trying to convey.

2) Bad communication = bad sex, but better communication doesn't necessarily translate to better sex. If we want more eros- we must focus on eros. First why do you want more eros? Set your values. Then, set aside time in your week to focus on this. Maybe its a massage, maybe its writing your partner a flirty email, maybe it is just giving your love a heartfelt compliment.

3) Be the change you want to see in your relationship. If you want someone who takes better care of themselves- toss your flannel pj's and start wearing better nighties. If you want someone who has more patience, begin to practice patience yourself.

4) Take out the trash. As David Schnarch puts it "we must be willing to call out the worst in ourselves from the best parts of ourselves." Sit down and identify how you yourself have been contributing to dulling the spark and make a commitment to change it.

5) Take the S.o.M.A six week signature relationship building course (cheeky right?)

Can Parents Have Passion Too?

What is the School of Marital Arts for Couples with Kids?

The School of Marital Arts is a six week program designed to bring your relationship from just surviving to thriving. This is not your typical "I hear you saying _____," reflective listening bs, or simply teaching you to use I statements. This six week program is based on Dr. Colleen's cutting edge approach to couples therapy based on the idea that our deepest relationships push us to grow in ways most of us are resistant to. Through this program, you will be challenged to grow and connect in ways you never thought possible.

Over the course of this program you will learn:

  • The reasons why parents often disconnect with each other and how to reconnect once and for all
  • How to create better boundaries within the home so that you are both no longer just defined as "mom" or "dad"
  • How to identify past parenting trauma from your childhood and create corrective emotional experiences towards healing
  • The principles of well-being that go into making us more balanced individuals capable of maintaining more balanced relationships
  • The main causes of divorce/breakups and how we can avoid them.
  • How to look at family patterns and how they affect you and your partner(s) in relationships.
  • How to identify your primary growth points that are being challenged and how to overcome emotional gridlock in your relationships.
  • How to identify and transform long term behavioral patterns that cause disconnection.
  • The principles that transform relationships and allow couples to continuously rebuild throughout a lifetime.
  • How to re-vamp a stale or non-existent sex life.
  • How to cultivate one's own sexual desire or get it back.
  • Having the hard talks: How to navigate difficult but necessary conversations.
  • Knowing when to fold them- identifying key deal breakers in a relationship.

S.o.M.A Average Self Help Course Cost = $299 for 6 weeks = $50/week                      

Traditional Couples Therapy = $250/session (per week)

1 is the Loneliest Number That You've Ever Heard?

Want to know the difference between being "lonely," and being "alone?" Then S.o.M.A's singles track is created with you in mind. What is the difference between being alone and lonely?

 

What is the School of Marital Arts for Singles?

The School of Marital Arts for singles is a six week program designed for those who are struggling to figure out how to find and maintain stable and healthy relationships. This six week program is based on Dr. Colleen's cutting edge approach to couples and 1:1 therapy based on the idea that our deepest relationships push us to grow in ways most of us are resistant to. Through this program, you will be challenged to grow and challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible.

Over the course of this program you will learn:

  • The principles of well-being that go into making us more balanced individuals capable of maintaining more balanced relationships
  • Identifying red flags and knowing when to run, not walk, away from someone.
  • Learning the difference between being "alone" and being "lonely"
  • Developing the necessary ability to seek relationships from fullness vs. emptiness, love vs. fear.
  • The main causes of divorce/breakups and how we can avoid them.
  • How to look at family patterns and how they affect you and your partner(s) in relationships.
  • How to identify your primary growth points that are being challenged and how to overcome emotional gridlock in your relationships.
  • How to identify and transform long term behavioral patterns that cause disconnection.
  • The principles that transform relationships and allow us to continuously rebuild throughout a lifetime.
  • How to cultivate one's own sexual desire or get it back.
  • Having the hard talks: How to navigate difficult but necessary conversations.
  • Knowing when to fold them- identifying key deal breakers in a relationship.