The Emotion and Logic of “WHY”

The Emotion and Logic of “WHY”

In the standard American culture, needing to know the “why” of anything is paramount in our thinking habits. Our minds are just trained to “the need to know.” In fact, NOT knowing is grounds for dismissal! For example, let’s say that my son just lost his shoe. “Why” did he loose his shoe? How could he do such a thing!?! The temptation is to berate and blame. When you ask “why” you are presupposing a “because.”

This same function happens when a person experiences emotions. When an emotion comes into awareness, the first default mode is to want to go to the “why” of having it. I’ll be working with a person in my office and this happens almost automatically. What the general public might not be aware of is that emotions, by definition, are not logical. I like to say that anything that is not logical, is emotional. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it does to me, but, hey, I’m like a Counselor and LOVE the world of the emotions.

Essentially, asking “why” makes the emotions go away. Asking “why” takes the mind to the puzzle mode. Onto the logical, linear, and rational spectrum. I think that is “why” we do this. We are running away from our emotions which was taught, modeled, and highly encouraged as we have matured. After all, most of us, including our parents, did not know what to do with them.
A better way to handle these challenging feelings is to sit with them, breath through them, write them down, or do art around them. (Or, just do art!) Basically, encourage and support yourself to stay in the emotional brain.
So, next time you feel some emotions, don’t let them scare you back into the logical brain. Stay right there with them. FEEL them. I know, it is scary. You do not have to DO anything with them. Just notice them, let them BE, and see what happens.

An Open Letter to Family

An Open Letter to Family

Hello Family.
I thought I would take a moment and share some of my thoughts with you. This open format makes the contents available for others and follows my intention of openness, honesty, and grace. You see, I have some changes if my own to share with you that can benefit others as well.
I think my changes have been confusing for you. Over the last 10 years my philosophy of life and our place in it has grown. I have understood more about myself, where I’ve come from, where my interests lie. It’s ironic that I have actually been getting to know myself more and more. Not the self I had built to please others or construct an impenetrably successful life, but my REAL life.
The time I have taken has been well spent. Uncovering, healing, celebrating who I really am. Without the should’s, musts, or have-to’s. The best mental health is when the outside of a person matches the inside, and vice versa. Really.
I am not sure you knew I used to hate myself. I was petrified with self-hatred. Obviously, something was out of sync in my life.
I really like who I am. Really. Who I really am.
In some ways exposing myself to who you reflect back to me, as me, is too different and therefore replicates remnants of that place I used to be. I also do not think you are available for who I am. I have tried earlier-on.
I am a Highly Sensitive Person. I hear the messages and feel the covert-or, meta-messages. And, with my career I practice and hone these skills every day.
The thing is, I do not want to expose myself to who you think I am. That was for the first half of my time on the planet.
I need genuine interest, no judgement, compassion, and grace. That is all. Oh, one more thing, presence and attunement. (Thank you, Dr. Dan Siegel, Dr Alan Schore, and colleagues.
Swiss Cheese Childhoods

Swiss Cheese Childhoods

Hello Readers, In order to explain better the concept of less-than-nurturing childhood experience and preparation for adulthood, last week I used the metaphor of a block of Swiss cheese. Consider that a person in their adult years stands on a block of Swiss cheese as they navigate the present life of being a grown-up.

A healthy adult stands on their two foot by two foot Swiss cheese block with few holes in it. There are some holes, but these holds provide variety and flavor. They make life interesting and unique. This person enjoys the benefits of resiliency, flexibility, and belief in themselves.

Now let’s look at the cheese block of a person not as prepared. As they are standing on their block of Swiss cheese, the amount of holes in their cheese represents lack of guidance, direction, maybe life preparation deficits that person may not possess. Now consider the blasts through the block of Swiss cheese that made various holes from trauma, neglect, relational difficulties, or bullying and the like. These make for more holes in the cheese.

For their entire life, they have been balancing on this block of cheese. Only, when they were earlier in the adult years they used their physical will, sheer determination, and/or avoidance tactics (addiction or  escapism of some kind) to move forward despite their lack. By the time they are in their mid-adulthood they cannot withstand the pace. They struggle. They fall. They experience suicidal thoughts, break-ups of relationships, anxiety they never used to have.

They end up in my office. Oh, they have accomplished much! Successful jobs, military careers, families, success in many forms. Only now their bodies are bearing the toll. And they cannot understand what went wrong. Hence, the Swiss cheese analogy.
You are not bad or wrong. You were less optimally prepared. You are here now, and I respect your recently discovered difficulties.
Together, we can be together in a safe, therapeutic environment/relationship that encourages you to be “with” yourself.
Oh, you can do it yourself. There is just something sacred about a non-judgmental, unconditional positive regard, relationship.

Definition Continued: Counseling as Empowering

Definition Continued: Counseling as Empowering

In our series about the definition of Counseling we are to the part about “that empowers.” As a reminder, let me quote the entire definition as set forth by the American Counseling Association:

“Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”

In looking at definitions of the word empower, I find dictionaries that say the word means to give power to, to equip. It sounds like more of a bequeathing or giving from a place of power.

As a Counselor, I  would like to share how I understand this word. In a Counselor’s view, the person coming to receive the benefits of Counseling has a wisdom within themselves that has been obscured, or covered up, for some reason. The person or family has not been able to see their brilliance or have access to it. Through the process of Counseling, the person gradually understands themselves better which opens them up to seeing their inherent wisdom. Their situation, relationship, or struggle has temporarily blocked their ability to experience themselves or their situation as wonderful and strong. This is also called the strength-based approach. We each have the strength to be here right now. Something has gotten us to that point. We are not dead yet. What strength has prevailed up until now. Let us explore what a person naturally brings with them, just because they are. When I have a new client, even before we meet in person, I communicate subtly their worth, power, preferences, choice. It is not a “here, let me give you a fish for dinner.” It is more like, “you can fish, let me show you how.” It is not a top-down approach. It is a “with-ness.” Let me be with you on your journey and let us explore what you can learn to keep you from falling.

If Nothing Changes…

If Nothing Changes…

..the Status Quo Prevails.”


Musings for this morning.


In taking a higher view of my circumstance, I have come to the awareness that nothing will change if I don’t change it.
Is the current situation meeting my needs? No.
Do I want to do something different? No.
Can I continue at this level? No.
Do I need to change something? Yes.
Why do I always have to be the changer?
Where are other adults in this situation?
Why don’t they see the need to change?
Why is it always me?
Do these questions help me?
Expressing them helps to get them out.
Do I think there are answers? No.
Do I still need to make changes? Argh.. Yes.
LOVE-a Multisensory Experience

LOVE-a Multisensory Experience

Love is…

The top of a baby’s head,
The scent of an ocean’s spray.
The taste of your kisses…
A ripe, red strawberry bursting.
Tenor of voice, “That’s Ole’s purse!”
“You are the Love of my Life!”
Skin to skin, lips to skin,
Scent to skin, scent to skin.
The color of your skin, your hair, your eyes, your smile, you’re content..
Squirming effort, to breathe, to stretch, to delight,
With Sense.

(Now go back through and replace the phrase “Love is..” with, “I am.”)