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You are not your defense mechanisms

We have all heard the term, “defense mechanism,” and most of us have a general idea of what that means. A defense mechanism is a way of protecting or distancing ourselves from some form of emotional pain. Unless you grew up in a world totally free of pain, you probably developed a few of your more…

Lessons from my dog

There is a saying, generally regarded as a Buddhist proverb, that goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I have found this to be true from time to time. For instance, when I was a high school student, I read books like “Be Here Now,” and “Grist for the Mill,” by Ram more…

Our sense of identity versus who we really are

In my last post, I talked about the difference between guilt and shame. Today, we will look at a related topic, which is the difference between our sense of identity and our “true self.” For some reason, we humans typically have a strong need to form an identity, to know exactly “who I am.” When more…

Guilt and shame

In my last post, I talked about the four basic feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at two very closely related emotions: guilt and shame. Additionally, we will look at an important distinction between the two. Both guilt and shame are examples of emotional pain, and more…

Emotions 101

There are a lot of reasons why people seek the help of a therapist. Usually, the problem in a person’s life situation that prompts him or her to talk to a therapist is referred to as the “presenting problem.” Common examples might include such things as a breakup or some other significant loss, conflict with more…

Fear – the biggest obstacle

Is there something you want to accomplish, some goal you want to reach, but you can’t seem to get there? Maybe you want to go back to school, or look for a new job. Maybe you want to start a business. Maybe you want to create something artistic, or maybe you just want to meet more…

The difference between sadness and depression

As a therapist, the most common problem I encounter among clients is depression. In fact, depression has been called “the common cold of psychiatry.” Most of us are going to struggle with it at some point in our lives. For some people, depression arises as a result of events in our life situation, such as more…