The Shrink’s Links: Still I Rise

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.


Today’s link from the shrink is:

Still I Rise

Feeling oppressed?

Recite this poem to yourself and you’ll feel ready to take it on, anyway.

Good for all types of oppression.

Click here to go to the link

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Relationships, Part 12: Heads on Pillows

Here’s another exercise that can improve your relationship. It’s called Heads on Pillows.

  1. Set a timer for five minutes.
  2. Lie down with your partner, clothes on, side by side, facing each other.
  3. Put your heads on pillows. If your partner has one eye, you’re too close.
  4. Don’t speak, stroke, or grope. Try not to make funny faces.
  5. Look into your partner’s eyes and try to see all the way into his or her soul. That’s right, the soul.
  6. Continue until the time is up.
  7. Then do whatever you want.

Some people find this exercise uncomfortably intimate. You really become aware of yourself, your partner, and the connection, or lack of it, you have. It’s like Pilates for relationships. It isolates the alliance you have with your partner, better than sex does. In sex, you can always focus on yourself or sensations. Like Hugging until Relaxed, it’ll bring all your issues to the surface where you can work on them.


Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

Relationships, Part 11: How to build admiration

admirationYou began your relationship admiring each other. Now, you might take her for granted. You might’ve forgotten what you ever saw in him. If this is the case, then take thirty days to reinvigorate your relationship with this simple, two step process. This is what you do:

  1. Every day, find one new thing to appreciate or admire about your partner.
  2. Say it aloud to him or her.

This should be relatively easy in the beginning, but it’ll get harder as the month goes on. You can’t repeat anything, remember. You’ll have to dig deep.

Let me give you a hint about how to find things to say. Take all the criticisms you make and turn them around. You think he’s a pig? Well, at least he’s not hung up on appearances. Is she a workaholic? You can’t say she’s not ambitious.

If this seems too disingenuous, then try this method. Know your partner’s life story. What did she have to to overcome to get where she is today? Some things may be easy for you because they were made easy for you. Take heed of the current struggles he has in his life on a daily basis. Take note, understand, and acknowledge.

Remember what first attracted you to your partner. Something made your heart beat strong. You may not think it’s special now because it’s around all the time, but look for it and you’ll see it again.

By having to come up with a new thing to appreciate and admire every day, you begin a habit of looking for positive qualities. You tune into her goodness, rather than your frustration.

As you verbalize to your partner the good qualities you find, he begins to treat you better. You start rewarding the positive characteristics. Sugar catches more than vinegar. Put out some sugar.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

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The Shrink’s Links: Abundance Mentality

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.


Today’s link from the shrink is:

How to Create an Abundance Mentality

Are you focused on abundance or scarcity? The choices or the limits? The opportunities or the barriers? Life or Death? It makes a difference.

Click here to read more

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Relationships, Part 10: There is always natural variation within any couple

Models for American Gothic

Take any two people and there will always be a natural variation between them regarding any characteristic.

There will always be one who is more strict with the kids, open to in-laws, careful with money, adventurous in bed, ambitious about career, social, self confident, flirty, interested in a clean house, closer to family, better at math, permissive, more sharing of feelings, horny, generous to others, and on, and on, and on.

The fact that one is always more (Insert Characteristic) than the other does not necessarily indicate there’s a pathology. Just because your wife is hornier than you are, does not mean she has a sexual addiction. Just because your husband likes to clean house, does not mean he is obsessive. Pathology exists at the edges of the bell curve, where a person is rigid about their qualities, beyond all reason.

Natural variation within a couple can be an obvious source of strength, wonder, and appreciation. Two heads are better than one because they can see in both directions. Variation offers differing perspectives and skill sets.

Natural variation can also lead to discord and polarization if the couple doesn’t practice respect for their differences. Let’s just say that one partner is more strict with the kids and the other is more permissive. This will be the case with every couple with kids. Every one. If they lose respect for each other they will begin to compensate for each other by being more and more extreme. The permissive one will let the kids get away with more because they think the partner is too strict. The strict one will lay down the law to compensate for the lenience of the other. In this way, they will get further and further apart, each undoing the other, with the kids in the middle, often helping to drive a wedge between them.

Schisms widen whenever an individual identifies more strongly with their way, than they identify with the alliance with their partner. It’s unnecessary, though. It’s easily remedied when you begin to appreciate your partner’s ways and understand how they can serve as a natural check for the excesses of your own ways.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

Relationships, Part 9: Secrets

secretsIf you’ve done the last few exercises, you may have squirmed a little, and maybe you have not been totally honest. When answering some of the questions on the Newlywed game or even when just telling about your day, you might have noticed telling your partner some things is easier than telling her others. Maybe there are kinks you are ashamed of, a bad day at the office that would worry her, or something you did that he might not understand. These are your secrets. Your secrets, as you may have heard, can make your marriage sick.

So, this guy has a female friend at work. They spend a lot of time in each others’ offices. They text constantly. They tell each other everything. She’s going through a lot and he can be a support. She understands him. There is nothing sexual going on, but still, he doesn’t tell his wife about his friend. He’s afraid his wife would just get needlessly jealous. Besides, there’s nothing to tell because nothing happened.

You can imagine how this scenario might play out. His wife might see a text message and say, If there’s nothing going on, why haven’t you told me? His wife will be unable to trust him. Even if the woman and the guy never had sex, the wife would call it an emotional affair. He might just get so close to the woman at work that he falls in love and divorces his wife.

That fellow is in a bind. On one hand, he clearly desires having an intimate relationship with someone. He’s lonely and likes there to be no secrets. He likes to be known and valued for who he is. He has that kind of relationship with his female friend. Why can’t he have it with his wife?

He can be real with the woman at work because it doesn’t matter so much if she disapproves. He has less to lose. Ironically, this secret destroys the marriage because the man attempts to preserve it. He is so intent on keeping his marriage safe that he creates this giant wall between himself and his wife.

There is a general, ironic principle at work here. In order to keep your relationship alive, you have to be willing to put it to the test. You have to court conflict, not avoid it. To save a union, you have to be willing to risk it.


Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

Relationships, Part 8: How Was Your Day?

MapMost of us know this question as the desperate conversation opener our parents tried on us when they picked us up from school; as in:

“How was your day, Billy?” said Mother as she surreptitiously checked in the rear view mirror for some clue of emotion.

“Fine,” said Billy, rolling his eyes and plugging into his iPod.

Nonetheless, I believe the question to be an important one, especially between life partners, and deserving of a serious, well considered reply.

A few posts ago, I wrote about the necessity of having an accurate map of the inside of your partner’s mind. I meant it. It’s a necessity. All too often we rely on what we learned about him or her when we were first dating. Well, he might have been trying to impress you then. She may not know the things she knows now. He might have changed his mind.

If google maps came out with a new version, you’d download it, right? You’d like to know that the bridge is out lest you end up in the drink; you need to find your friend who just moved to a new street. The same thing goes with your map of the inside of your partner’s mind. Ask her how her day was. You might be surprised at what you hear.

There are lots of ways of downloading a map of the inside of your partner’s mind. You could ask him what his values, worries, and expectations are and maybe he would have them sorted out enough to tell you. What’s better is to see it in action in the way he treats his secretary, how he talks about his coworkers, and what he does with his boss’s demands.

In order to work best, the question might have to be re-worded. How was your day? may invite one word responses. Tell me about your day is more open-ended, but you may have to be prepared to listen for a while. Tell me about the best and the worse part of your day, strikes a balance.

Ask at a sensible time, like when you would be likely to listen. Asking it at the breakfast table is just weird; the day hasn’t started, yet. Asking in bed at night, when you’re about to drop off doesn’t go well. Asking when the kids are hanging on her gives you a curt response. Asking when friends or family are around gives you the PR version.

Take turns. It’s as important for your partner to download a new version of the map of your mind as it was for you.

How was your day? Ask, listen, and tell. Repeating on a regular basis might, just might, be the most important thing you do to keep you together.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

Relationships, Part 7: The Newlywed Game

newlywed gameYou might not be old enough to remember the Newlywed Game on TV. Well, I am. Couples competed to demonstrate their knowledge of each other. Hilarity, and a few fights, ensued. It’s often surprising how much new couples don’t know about each other. It’s sobering to see how little old couples know.

No matter how long you’ve been together, it’s time you got caught up. Sit down with each other sometime and ask the following questions. You might be surprised about the answers:

  • Name my 2 closest friends.
  • Who’s my favorite relative?
  • What’s my fondest unrealized dream?
  • What’s my favorite time of day for sex?
  • What was my best childhood experience?
  • What do I like to do with free time?
  • What do I fear most?
  • Name 2 people I most admire.
  • What’s my favorite sex position?
  • What’s my favorite movie?
  • What health problem do I worry the most about?
  • What was my first impression of you when we first met?
  • Where would I most like to travel to?
  • Do I have any kinks?
  • Do I prefer flowers or candy?
  • How many kids do I want to have?
  • Describe my first sexual experience.
  • What am I most ashamed of?
  • Where am I ticklish?
  • How was my day? Really, how was it?


Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.