Why You Need To Feel Again- Therapy Advice for the New Year


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Human beings are hard-wired to “feel”. We need to touch, talk and connect with each other to maintain optimal health, both physical health and mental health. In fact, if babies do not get enough cuddling and love within their first year of life, it affects the development of their brain growth.

Feelings are natural, and yet complex. To feel emotions requires a “give and take”. Sometimes it hurts to feel something. Sometimes it takes great courage to feel and to express what we feel. Sometimes others do not reciprocate our feeling, and that hurts.

To avoid feeling emotions that cause discomfort, we may begin to create barriers for ourselves. For example, we may not talk about our emotions, or be as tender with our loved ones, or we avoid intimacy in a number of other ways.

When we block ourselves from feeling; we are also limiting our ability to feel positive emotions, like joy and happiness. While at first it may seem scary to be so open, but allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable and then honestly evaluating our faults, fears, weaknesses, can offer true liberation.

The Law of Attraction states that what you give out is what you get back. So if you act reserved and closed off, others will mimic that energy. So let the walls crumble, and let your authentic self shine, and others will do the same.

Drugs and alcohol are another way people numb themselves from feeling and fool themselves into thinking this kind of connection is authentic. When you start to accept and understand your feelings, the desire to numb is diminished. Instead, you want to enjoy every blessed moment you have on this planet.

If you don’t even know where to begin to connect with feelings again, I can help. If you have been finding relationships never seem to work out for you, this might the reason. If your conversations with others always seem shallow, I can help. If drugs or alcohol usage is interfering with your life, I can help.

Don’t let another year pass where you hide away. Step into the world and FEEL again. You might get hurt, yes. But you will allow yourself to feel the wonder of closeness, joy and love in a way that nourishes you in every way.

Four Mantras for a Healthy Relationship


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Four Mantras for a Healthy Relationship

The Four MantrasFrom the time we are just teenagers, we come to understand that relationships are hard. We get wounded from cycles of love, from the passion and to the heart-wrenching break-ups. Sometimes we are the one causing the pain while other times we are on the receiving end. Until at some point in our adult lives, we may find the person that we want a long term relationship with, the kind of relationship that fosters growth, acceptance and true love. And then we realize that this too is hard. Feelings get hurt until emotions get pushed deep down inside leading to a relationship that doesn’t feel as fabulous and authentic as it did in the beginning. Thich Naht Hahn, a prolific writer and peace activist, nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize, asserts that there are four mantras that can help build healthy relationships of love. He uses the word “mantra” for these statements because they are not just one-time thoughts, but questions to bring into your relationship over and over again. The key is repetition. The next time you are having some difficulties in your relationship do not suffer in silence. Draw your partner near you and follow the guidance of Thich Naht Hahn:

I am here for you.

How comforting is it to know someone is there listening to you? And do just that- LISTEN. You don’t need to add your perceptions or judgments, just be there.

I know you are there, and I am very happy.

How reassuring it is to know someone is beside you! This comfort will soften your partner and let them know you appreciate them.

I know you are suffering. That is why I am here for you.

How good does it feel to know that someone understands your hurt? Be there with understanding and compassion.

I suffer. Please help.

How hard is it for you to ask for help? Don’t let pride stop you from voicing this need. Even the strongest people need help. These four mantras can lead to a compassionate relationship built on love, openness and honesty. They may help you to go deeper than you ever imagined was possible in the connection of two people. For more relationship counseling please call and schedule an appointment today.

Are Expectations Hurting Your Love Life?


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Expectations Hurt Your /love LifeAre Expectations Hurting Your Love Life?


Many of us spend a vast amount of our time contemplating this. Married people even let their mind wander down the path of questioning if they have chosen the right mate. Very often whom we think of as Mr. or Ms. Right is more or less perfect. They are perfectly thoughtful, perfectly handsome, perfectly funny, great in bed, and sensitive to our feelings. They have good jobs and are motivated to succeed in all the ways that are important to us individually. These perfect versions of Mr. or Ms. Right are usually a derivative of roles we have seen in the movies or in books we have read. To show the real ups and downs of being in a relationship and all the small ways that a partner is not perfect does not make for a great movie. So, as a therapist who has over 25 years relationship counseling experience, I need to tell you something. If you are looking for love or are unhappy with the love you have, you need to change your expectations. Love isn’t about finding a “soulmate” that will complement you in every way. It is about sharing a life with someone you find agreeable for the long term. Studies show that income and good looks do not have any relevance in lasting relationships.

To begin the process of setting realistic expectations, write and answer the following five questions:

  1. Who am I looking for in a partner? What qualities should he/she possess? Move on past good looks and income, writing down qualities you like about yourself or friends that you value.
  2. What are the values that I possess?
  3. Do I imagine this person saving me, rescuing me, changing my life, possessing values I do not?
  4. What are the health values that I believe?
  5. What are the love values that I believe?

The process of finding a good partner begins with understanding your own values and what you are bringing with you into a relationship. You want someone that is nice and nurtures what is already amazing about you. Don’t look for perfect. If a possible partner or your partner has done something that hurts your feelings or you don’t like, open the door of conversation before you jet out looking for Mr./ Mrs. Perfect again. Psychologists have shown it takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes to decide if you fancy someone- and that this decision is based mostly on their body language and the tone and speed of their voice. You may be missing out on a perfectly complimentary partner based on the way they said hello and then all the other expectations piled on top of that. Change your expectations and see if there is a more attractive selection of mates in your vicinity.

Handling Stress: Meditate


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Handling Stress: Meditate

meditationMeditation is useful for everybody and can be done by anyone. It has been shown to improve mood, relieve pain, decrease anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, improve memory and reduce stress. According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of all health problems brought to doctors are stress related. So if you can get your stress levels under control with meditation, you may be able to have a profound impact on your health in a myriad of ways.
When I do recommend meditation to my clients, many of them tell me they don’t know how or can’t do it. Here are some tips to begin a meditation practice:

1. Write it down on your calendar as part of your daily “to-do’s.”

Once a meditation becomes a daily practice, you will begin to see the best results. Some people enjoy meditating in bed at the end of the day while others like the effects of beginning their day with a clear mind. Pick what works best with your schedule and that you are able to commit to with the most ease.

2. There’s an app for that!

There really is! There are many apps that can help you meditate with guided meditations, reminders to your smart phone, or just daily inspiration. I like the app “Stop, Breathe and Meditate.”

3. Let go of being perfect.

Meditation requires concentration, so it is normal for your mind to wander and jump around. When you notice the mind wandering, you bring it back to whatever you were focusing on in your meditation. Even people who have been meditating for years find their mind wandering from time to time. Don’t get frustrated- just keep beginning over and over again.

4. Join a class.

There are many communities that offer guided meditation classes in healthcare facilities, mindfulness workshops, yoga studios, or even at the workplace. The benefit of being in a class is that you have the support of a trained instructor leading you through the meditation. Often there are opportunities at the end of the class to share your experience with the leader and to seek advice.

5. Talk to your counselor or therapist.

Many therapists are skilled in meditation and can assist you as you begin to practice. Discuss with your therapist your needs, and they should be able to help you find the meditation that would be most useful to you.
Try a month challenge- meditation every day for a month. At the end of the month, check in with yourself and take note of how you feel. You may notice some short term effects but if you continue the effects to your health continue to multiply.

Finding the Strength for Happiness


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Finding the Strength for Happiness

Mental Toughness

Athletic coaches know this term well. If you play sports or played sports, you probably have considered this concept before. But the rest of us may not be familiar at all with the idea of mental toughness. As a therapist, I am always challenging my clients to find their own mental toughness so they can go beyond whatever is limiting them from finding joy.
And often this is what they need, the stamina and ability to venture “beyond.” Imagine that there is happiness for you right over this giant hill, you are stuck in a muddy field for a long time, but finally you find a road to walk over the hill. When you begin your journey, you may find the road loses its shape a bit, and there maybe some jagged rocks you have to carefully navigate around. At this point, you have a choice; you can give up and go back to the muddy field without losing too much, but gaining nothing. (And let’s remember, it’s difficult to maneuver around the muddy field.) OR, you can chose to be mentally tough, and let go of your fear of the potential “scrapes and bruises” as you navigate the jagged rocks along the road to destiny.
I understand trying a new and unknown road can be difficult and scary, but ask yourself, “Is my way working?” Sometimes the best way to conquer fear is just take one step at a time. I bet that every time you take a step it will get easier and pretty soon you will find you are walking towards joy and freedom from fear. You can learn to go beyond, but just lie in athletics, it takes repetition and practice.

How do I develop mental toughness?

As we begin to practice mental toughness, we begin to learn to develop confidence in our strengths. We begin to know ourselves better; as we identify our strengths and our weaknesses. We are able to let go of the past, focus on the moment and practice active listening, say we are to say sorry when wrong and not take things so personally. We learn to live in the moment, trust our gut and be unafraid of the future. We let go of judgment and criticism of others, and ourselves, and we are honest about where the root of our fear lies. We practice letting go of the fear and taking the next step. Other things that will help build mental toughness are eating right, getting enough exercise and rest, helping others and minimizing the amount of alcohol consumed.
As you can see this is a long, bold list of initiatives that won’t happen without a desire to change some grittiness and action. It will not happen overnight. But if you keep the attitude that you are in charge of your own happiness, and take action by taking one step at a time, before long you will realize you have climbed your first giant hill. Developing mental toughness will allow you to experience a life of joy. I would love to help you take that first step towards change.

Learn to Control Your Mind


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Learn to Control Your Mind

What are you thinking about right now? Chances are you are having an interesting discussion with yourself even as you are reading this blog. You may have a story from the past looping through your mind as you imagine new possible endings. Maybe you are thinking of the future and some conversation or situation that could possibly happen someday. The mind can be like a distracted child wandering from one thing to another without ever living in the reality of “now”.

My hope is that you are fully engaged and completely engulfed in this article because the alternative state of distraction is not good for you over time. When the mind is wandering around, it depletes your mental energy and keeps you from connecting with the things in your life that are real and true.

So, let’s go back to the initial question: what are you thinking about right now? To control the mind, we have to understand its patterns. Try this awareness experiment. When you wake up tomorrow, start noticing and documenting what you think about, even the silly ridiculous. It’s just for your eyes only so write it all down. But, I warn you, you may be blown away by what you discover.

Looking at your observations, would you say your thoughts were mostly positive or mostly negative? If you said negative, were they based on anxiety, stress, being hard on yourself or a loved one, or just feeling dog-tired?

The health of your mind is just as important as the health of your body. For the mind to be healthy, we need to stay in more positive feedback loops.


Your brain is fueled by serotonin, a hormone that is responsible for generating feelings of happiness and contentment. Stress depletes serotonin, as does lack of sleep and poor nutritional health. If you are not taking care of your health and this hormone is constantly being depleted, it is going to be very hard for your brain to stay optimistic. It’s like expecting your car to run well on low oil. It will for a bit, but over time, the car will start to show signs of poor “health”. You need your oil at its optimal level to go the distance and deal with the demands of your life!

As stress depletes serotonin, it causes the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise. So, here’s the deal: Being overly stressed and worried is going to generate more stress and more worry in your life.

Your life begins with your thoughts.

Your thoughts lead to your actions. Get control of your mind and you will gain greater control over the direction of your life. There are many tools that can help you quiet the mind:



Deep breathing



Quiet moments in nature

Walk, jog, bike, swim outside

Tai chi

Eat well- “Live” food like fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains

Get excited about something you love


Good night sleep

Engage fully in something new like a music or art class


There are things you should eliminate to keep your mind at its optimal health:

Staying up late

Fueling up on sugars and artificial foods

Couch potato syndrome


Criticism and judgement of others

Overindulgence in drugs and alcohol

Overly busy

No “me” time

These lists are broad but efficient. Begin making positive changes today in your mind and will see how those positive changes will branch out through everything you do. But nothing changes until we see it. So observe the mind and then you will know what you need to do.

ADD/ADHD and Your Relationship


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ADD/ADHD and Your Relationship

Intimate CoupleADD/ADHD is a disorder that affects children and grown-ups. It can make one forgetful, disorganized, restless, and unfocused. But it can also bring bursts of creativity, energy, spontaneity, and a wonderful ability to think out of the box. If you are in a relationship with someone with ADD/ ADHD, you have probably experienced some of these traits in your partner. There may be times you adore the capabilities they have while, at other times, you don’t know what you are going to do with them! Any relationship requires patience, love and a whole lot of understanding to make it through the hurdles of life together. Here are some tips to help you feel happy and content in your relationship:

Do some research on ADD/ADHD

Go on the Internet or read on a book on the disorder. Learn what triggers ADD/ADHD, the symptoms, and helpful tools to manage the disorder. The information you gather will help you understand your partner and approach them with more sensitivity.


If you find there is any area of frustration due to the disorder, help your partner see a way to remedy it. For instance, if your partner has a hard time focusing, enroll in a meditation class together. Help your partner organize by giving a clear, written plan of the day/ week/ month. You are a team!


Listening is often the best form of communication there is. Open the doors to communication by listening with an open mind to your partner’s ADD/ADHD struggles. He or she may experience periods of low self- esteem, embarrassment, disappointment or even hopelessness associated with the disorder. Do not add extra pressure or put-downs. After you have listened to your partner, you can share how you feel affected too. Then, there is time for problem solving and resolving the issue with love and compassion on both sides.


Mindfulness is an approach to help focus the mind. It is useful in most people and can be learned from books, meditation CD’s or with the help of a therapist. Committing to a mindfulness practice together makes a wonderful date night!

Be understanding, strong, and focused to bring out the positives in your partner. When your ADD/ADHD partner feels balanced, they will be able to the same back to you.

Healthy Heart and Healthy Mind


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A Healthy Heart and Healthy Mind

What makes a heart healthy?

The science is out that to have a healthy heart, we have to move our bodies with exercise, we have to manage our weight with proper nutrition, and we have to quit smoking. But what else makes for a healthy heart? As a therapist, I often see people that have these things going well in their life, yet their hearts are not full and content. Here are some things you can do to keep your heart healthy and strong above and beyond the physical:

Process sadness and grief

At some point in all of our lives, we will each experience sadness and grief. To process through these emotions, first we must identify and acknowledge what we are feeling. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about what you are feeling. Holding onto negative emotions is very toxic. Talking through it with someone and being able to process though it will make a world of difference in your life.

Release stress

A small dose of stress can be good reminder of all the important things that need to be done, but stress does serious damage to our mind and bodies. It is important to release stress before we feel overwhelmed and run down. So do something that you like- go outside for a walk or a run, light candles in your room, or join a group exercise class. You can also give meditation a try. It is a wonderful tool that will help you to release the negative thinking from your life.

Live in the moment

Emily Dickinson said, “Forever is composed of nows.” The little moments are the big moments. Set time aside to experience self- realization and self- confidence. Being happy and content in your life is an attitude of knowing that the negative moments will pass and allowing the happy ones to consume your life.

Breathe deeply

It’s amazing how only a few minutes of deep breathing can change your mood. Breathing is essential to keeping calm and maintaining sanity. Daily and normal tasks can be overwhelming to our nervous system, such as sitting in traffic and making deadlines. It’s important that to take deep, rhythmic breaths giving yourself time to think through whatever is occurring in your life.

Make peace with your heart, feeling free to live in the moment, and love without limits. It is the only one you get in this lifetime!

Tips for Flourishing in 2014


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Tips for Flourishing in 2014

insirationEvery year more than 40% of Americans make New Years Resolutions, and only 8% of people achieve their New Years Resolutions.

Let this year be the year that you finally take those steps to changing the aspects of your life that you’ve been waiting to do until now. Make this year productive and compelling, and let January 1st be the start of positive changes in your life.

Focus and motivation are the two most important components in achieving your goal. So while we are still in December plan, plan, and then plan again.

New Years Resolutions are often perceived to be extreme life makeovers, which can be overwhelming. You need be honest with yourself. Chose goals that are attainable, when people chose unrealistic goals, they tend to get frustrated and quit before they really even get started.

You don’t have to save thousands of dollars or drop ten sizes to have a productive resolution. You just have to have a goal, a plan, and the desire to achieve and maintain success. Break down your goal into small goals, so you can be achieving even a fraction of your main goal each day. It’s uplifting when you set small hurdles for yourself each day, and tackle them with a positive, charismatic attitude, instead letting the long-term goal overwhelm you.

Make your goals as clear and detailed as possible and assume that nothing is too small to include in your plan for success. Make a calendar and keep a journal so you can stay accountable to yourself. When you see yourself progressing, the results will drive you further to making your goal.

It’s easy to make a resolution; the real challenge is defying the statistic. As Cavett Robert said, “Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.”