Harry Potter and the Power of Positive Thinking

As a psychotherapist who works with young adults, I often allude to pop culture in my private practice. So when my 20-something client and professed Harry Potter devotee grew anxious about a dreaded trans-coastal visit to her Dementor of a mother-in law in Los Angeles, I naturally inquired, “What Harry Potter would do?”“Well, of course, he would conjure his Patronus,” she replied....more

The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Have Health Insurance

Growing up, the first commandment in my family was “thou shalt have health insurance.” This sacred precept was invoked whenever I became itchy at a job or felt the urge to strike out on my own. “Consider what would happen if, God forbid, you got into an accident,” my parents would say. “We would have to sell the house.”...more

Tired of the Same-Old Story? Seeing Yourself as a Character in a Novel Can Help

Imagine walking into a neighborhood bookstore and discovering a novel with a familiar picture on the cover. Flipping through the pages, you are struck by the eerie sense that you’ve read this before. As you begin to recognize characters and scenes, wincing at some and smiling at others, you realize this is the story of your life.Would you feel love and compassion for the main character? According to the latest psychological research, you are likely to view your life more favorably at a distance than up close....more

The story is much larger than our own, and we are all in the gift of older stories that we are ...more

The "You" Behind Your Resume: Reclaiming the Authorship Rights of Your Career Narrative

When I first moved to San Francisco in the early 90s, I was frequently pegged for being a New Yorker, and it wasn’t because of my barely detectable accent. Within seconds of meeting a new acquaintance, I would inevitably ask “What do you do?” More often than not, I received responses I didn’t expect: “I paint,” “I windsurf,” “I’m training for a biathlon,” or “I help at-risk kids.” I wanted to know what they did for a living – they told me how they lived....more

A Little Stretching Goes a Long Way: The Yoga of Healthy Relationships

For the second week in a row, I stood shivering outside my boyfriend’s  apartment, waiting for him to come home. I saw his lateness as symptomatic. I knew he cared for me. Yet I wondered if he anticipated the consequences of his actions on my feelings. “What do you want me to do?” he said in exasperation. His question hung in the air for several seconds. Then I spotted his yoga mat, and the answer slipped off my tongue. “Emotional yoga,” I said. “Emotional what?” he replied, perplexed....more

A nice reminder to practice off the mat all that you learn on. (Although, I do think it is very ...more

Are You Really Listening? The Difference Between a Monologue and a Dialogue

Once in a while, when a conversation with someone I care about takes an unexpected turn that is not to my liking, I am tempted to stand up and yell “C-U-U-U-U-T!” “Excuse me,” I imagine myself saying, leaning over the person’s shoulder, megaphone dangling at my hip. “But you are not following the script. Your lines are, ‘Yes, of course, you are right. I agree wholeheartedly. I will do (such and such). Anything to make you happy.’”...more

People who talk in monologues - it is their therapy. If it is too hard for you then you have to ...more

Character Development: The Only Story Worth Living

A friend of mine who's had a disproportionate number of struggles in her 45 years on earth, bristles whenever I try to comfort her by espousing the virtues of character development. "Great, another f-ing personal growth experience," she says....more

I like this.

I find, too often, people do as much as they can to AVOID conflict. As if that ...more

Who's Writing Your Script? You May Be Surprised

In the movie Stranger than Fiction, Harold Crick is a robotic IRS agent who begins to question his mundane existence when he hears a mysterious voice narrating his life and foreshadowing his untimely death. When he discovers that he is not the master of his own destiny, but rather a fictional character dreamed up by an eccentric female author, Crick tracks down his creator and convinces her to rewrite the ending of his story....more

Feeling Stuck? It's Just a Chapter, Not Your Life Story

Every life is an unfolding story with plot twists and bright spots. When people become depressed, it is usually because they mistake one or more difficult chapters in their lives for the entire plotline, and fail to embrace lessons that can help them move their story forward. Take the 2006 Blockbuster, "The Pursuit of Happyness." The true rags-to-riches film chronicles exactly 28 chapters in the life of Chris Gardener, a suddenly single father who battles homelessness and ridiculous odds to earn a coveted entry-level position at a major San Francisco brokerage firm....more

Navigating Transitions: What We Never Learned in School

Change is the one constant in life. And yet, we are often surprised when it comes. Parents reward us for mastering routines of hygiene and self-discipline. Our educational system grooms us for progressive levels of security, reinforcing the belief that skill mastery yields the predictable comforts of a settled life. As we age, we are measured by our gains, not our losses, our stability, not our vulnerability....more