4 posts from October 2013

October 23, 2013

Brave Human Beings Taking a Stand

   IStock_000007605445XSmall  “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”

                                                                      The Fray

Standing up for what you believe in, when so many others disagree, can be daunting, to say the least. Going against the grain, no matter how crazy the “grain” may seem, takes courage, passion and tremendous character. Even those who have been deemed “leaders” have struggled -- and continue to struggle -- with doing the right thing in some of the most difficult of times. Regardless of whether you’re talking about top football coaches, top clergy, school principals, teachers, students, parents, friends or strangers, the reality is that doing the right thing is often the hardest thing to do.

There are countless stories of people growing silent in response to crimes. There are countless stories of teen boys cheering on their friends while they assault and rape a fellow teen. There are countless stories of parents protecting their teens at all costs, even when their child did tremendous harm to another. And there are countless stories of perpetrators, bystanders, family members, school members, strangers and acquaintances blaming victims, justifying hate, rape, abuse, bullying and on and on. Far too many people put a warped sense of loyalty, a desire for popularity or a twisted sense of what’s right ahead of human decency, kindness, compassion.

Continue reading "Brave Human Beings Taking a Stand" »

October 16, 2013

Relationship Lessons from the Government Shutdown of 2013

Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, most people agree that the government shutdown is not one of our country’s proudest moments. And, I thank our government for teaching all of us, through their mistakes, relationship lessons of a lifetime. Below are the top ten relationship lessons we can all take away from this unfortunate event.

  • Always be open to hearing the other side with an open mind rather than a righteous mind. One leads to healthy dialogue; the other to ill feelings and resentment. Don't ever get so stuck on being right that you become blind to solutions. 
  • Know that your actions and decisions create a ripple effect of consequences across the lives of those around you...and beyond. It's simply not all about you. Remember that how you live your life has great implications for those around you. Think about the ripple effects of your decisions before you make them.
  • When things don't go your way, don't dig in your heels in an attempt to FORCE them to go your way. This tactic is called bullying. It's toxic and damaging, not only to others, but to you as well.
  • If you agree to do something, do it. Don’t wait for a later issue to use as collateral to avoid doing what you agreed to do in the first place.
  • When you make an initial agreement, do so with thorough discussion and collaboration. Do not rush to get someone to agree on something if there is a good chance that there will be hard feelings later about the process. Relationships are about give and take, not winning and losing. Be considerate on all issues, not just your issues.
  • Stay on the issue at hand—don’t fight a past issue with a current problem. Too often people bring countless past issues into a current argument. Bringing in old issues makes discussion difficult at best. Deal with the issue at hand and don’t throw others into the mix.
  • The end does not justify the means. Using any means necessary to win your side is toxic to relationships. Don’t change the rules to suit you, shame people for disagreeing with you or intimidate others to get your way. Remember that even if your tactics get you what you want today, that doesn’t mean they won’t hurt you tomorrow. Don’t be shortsighted.
  • Don’t allow the power of a few to determine the behavior of many. S/he who speaks the loudest often wins…unless you have the courage to not cower to the power. Don’t allow intimidation to silence your voice.
  • Learn to ask yourself if what you’re doing is the “right” thing to do. Be the spouse you wish you were with and be the parent, friend or boss you wish you had. Do the right thing even in the most difficult of times.
  • When you hear the same information about your actions from two or more different sources, trust that there’s truth in what they’re saying. In politics we have polls that speak volumes; in marriages we have divorce. Listen to the feedback you’re given and make the necessary changes. Don’t wait until it takes a bullhorn to wake you up. 

Regardless of which political party you support, have the courage to learn from the mistakes of both parties. We do in our relationships what our politicians are doing in our government. In our relationships these actions lead to divorce and in our government it leads to a shutdown. We can do better.

Challenge: Look over the list above and check those that apply in your relationships and work them.

October 07, 2013

A Guest Post

Dating IQ:
Know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em

by Roberta Gallagher, LCSW, LMFT
Miami’s Relationship Expert

Perplexed and frustrated about loving someone who doesn’t act like they cherish you? You are successful and confident in every area of your life, but not with your partner, and it’s confusing.  Which one is your most authentic self?  

The answer is:  both. You are both submissive and assertive, depending on the situation, the dynamics of the relationship, and on your need for differing levels of dependency and intimacy in the moment. 

Both / And Can Empower and Enhance

This both / and way of being is common. We all have the capacity for being assertive in one role, and submissive in another.  The challenge, though, is to use these aspects of ourselves in ways that empower us, and enhance a relationship.

Getting to that place of empowerment and enhanced relationship takes work.  In my couples counseling practice, I frequently see the excruciating pain of considering letting go of a person you have invested so much of yourself in. It’s a heartbreaking and gut wrenching struggle for some of my clients. 

So I tell them this personal story -- Many years ago I was involved with a man who was charming, sexy, brilliant.  And a liar.  I went to therapy and wailed about how my heart was breaking.  I could not see myself without him.

My therapist said she just did not get it. He had slapped me, betrayed me, stolen from me.  And there I was grieving for the fantasy of what I thought this person was. That insight set me on my path to an empowered authentic self, and enhanced relationships.

Breaking up is hard to do. Letting go of a bond that is based not on behavior that matches words, but on some idealized, picture in your mind  -- disconnected from the reality you are living -- of how things should be isn’t easy. Here’s what I advise.

Roberta’s prescription for identifying your disconnects

 1. Make a list of pros and cons  

Give a value number to each item. He is socially embarrassing to me = 8.  He cheats = 10. He makes me laugh = 8.  She farts =3.   I am proud when I am with her = 10.  The number you assign is subjective, based on what is important to you.

 2. Find the action points 

Action points are your objective answers to these questions:

  • • What are your deal breakers?  
  • • What is negotiable? 
  • • Have you tried counseling? 
  • • Does being with this person make you feel better or worse about yourself?  
  • • Have you stood up for yourself in a firm yet soft manner?  
  • • Do you assert: “This is what I want and need”? 
  • • Have you said: “This behavior is unacceptable to me and when it occurs, I feel……..”

Which of these points will you follow up on this week?  When you do, what response do you get from your partner?  Can you see a possibility for real change?

 3. Decide to hold or fold  

When you make your decision and feel like wavering, pull out your lists. You can stop all communication or gradually withdraw. I believe that surviving the loss of a love requires no contact.  For many people they have to do this gradually. Support is useful during this time.

Roberta Gallagher is a licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship expert in private practice in South Miami, with more than 35 years of experience helping partners create lasting, happiness.  She is available for couples and individual counseling and can be reached through her website at



October 01, 2013

Life Lessons Part I: The Debris Your Actions Leave in Your Wake

IStock_000015134817_ExtraSmallAs much as I help my clients to better navigate their lives and relationships, they also help me to better navigate mine. I have the unique privilege of working with clients on the most intimate aspects of their lives—their relationships. As such, the journeys of countless clients have taught me a great many life lessons. Many of these life lessons have, unfortunately, been the result of their pain and anguish, while others have come from their successes and triumphs. All are powerful lessons from which all human beings can learn…hopefully prior to making painful mistakes. 

Below are the top ten lessons learned from the painful side of the equation:

  • A hundred kind acts do not erase the burn left from a hot temper. Acting like a ticking time-bomb from which your loved ones have to cower and protect themselves rather than a safe haven for loved ones to lean into for love, support and guidance will burn out any relationship. The burning embers of your anger remain long after your explosion is over…often for years. 
  • If you parent by instilling fear in your children, they will remember the fear, not the love. 
  • Children live what they know and they know what they live. They will model what they see their parents do and will brush past what their parents say. Be sure that the lessons your actions are teaching them will serve them in their own lives. 
  • An untreated alcohol/drug problem will likely become an active addiction. The addict who models the addiction and the enabler who tolerates the addiction will often create and pass down a toxic legacy of addiction from one generation to the next. The toxic legacy continues until one brave soul finds the courage to actively change that legacy.

Continue reading "Life Lessons Part I: The Debris Your Actions Leave in Your Wake" »

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