Preventing The Holiday Blues

Preventing The Holiday Blues.  Thanksgiving is next week and then Christmas and New Year’s.  For most, this time of year is filled with fun and excitement.  For others, it’s a time of loneliness and depression, and days filled with obligation, guilt, and doing things you really don’t want to do.  Part of what happens in the holiday season, in terms of mood changes and anxiety, occurs because of the stressfulness of holiday events. Overdrinking, overeating, and fatigue may also cause it. The demands of the season are many: shopping, cooking, travel, houseguests, family reunions, office parties, more shopping, and extra financial burden. Plus our economy may exacerbate many of us who are already stressed out or depressed.

10 Tips to get through the holiday season to prevent problems and misery for yourself and your loved ones.
1. Be reasonable with your schedule. Don’t overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion–this makes people cranky, irritable, and depressed.
2. Prioritize and Organize your time.
3. Remember, no matter what your plans, the holidays do not automatically take away feelings of aloneness, sadness, frustration, anger, and. fear.
4. Be careful about resentments from past holidays. Declare an amnesty with whichever family member or friend you are feeling past resentments.
5. Don’t expect the holidays to be just as they were when you were a child. They NEVER are. You’re not the same as when you were a child, and no one else in the family is either.
6. Don’t have any plans for the Holidays? Volunteer to serve holiday dinner at a homeless shelter. Work with any number of groups that help underprivileged or hospitalized children at the holidays. There are many opportunities for doing community service. No one can be depressed when they are doing community service.
7. Plan unstructured, low-cost fun holiday activities: window-shop and look at the holiday decorations. Look at people’s Christmas lighting on their homes, take a trip to the mountains, etc.–the opportunities are endless.

8. If you drink, do not let the holidays become a reason for over-indulging and hangovers. This will exacerbate your depression and anxiety. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is a depressant.
9. Give yourself a break; create time for yourself to do the things YOU love and need to do for your physical and mental wellness: aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, taking long fast walks or any activity that calms you down and gives you a better perspective on what is important in your life. Laugh.
10. If the Holiday Blues become overwhelming and affect your normal level of functioning seeking counseling with a Therapist is always the right thing to do.

Please let me know if I can be of help.  Call me at (858) 735-1139  Happy Holidays


Women Who Date Unavailable Men

Women Who Date Unavailable Men.  I’m sure most of you have a friend or a person you know who’s dating a man that is not available.  Whether these guys are married or have told them (and on numerous occasions), they are not ready nor want to settle down, these women tend to remain in a relationship knowing full well it doesn’t work for them.

So what’s up with that?  Psychologically, there are many reasons that answer that question.

As a Couples Counselor, I work with these women.  They are intelligent, educated, self-sufficient and attractive.  What keeps them interested in remaining in a relationship that doesn’t work for them?  Well, for some it does.  They don’t want the commitment.  Reasons being a fear of intimacy or choice not to be in a committed relationship.  We all have some degree of fear of intimacy.  Depending on what you experienced in your formative years (0 – 17 years), these personal issues get carried into our adult life making decisions that aren’t always in our best interest.

Women and men stay in relationships that don’t work because their personal issues consist of low self-esteem and a lack of worthiness.  As a young woman, I stayed in a couple of relationships where I should have left sooner rather than later.  As confident as I presented,  I grew more self-assured with the development a stronger sense of self.  I didn’t feel valued enough growing up as I was the child who was independent and apparently didn’t need much attention.  In Family Systems theory, I was the “Hero” of my family but didn’t feel I was compensated well enough compared to my siblings.  So I kept my mouth shut, suppressed/repressed my feelings and internalized not feeling good enough.  If I did express an emotion it was anger.  Underlying emotions of hurt, disappointment, and sadness kept me from getting my needs and wants met.  Of course, my parents didn’t have any ill intent but the impact it created for me effected how I behaved in relationships.

For more information on how to resolve this dilemma please contact me at (858) 735-1139

Dating Tips For Singles In San Diego

Dating Tips For Singles In San Diego.  Dating isn’t as easy as it appears.  Interacting with people can be quite nerve-racking.  It can be uncomfortable and devastating to even begin a conversation.  If you didn’t have anyone role model or teach you how to interact with someone you’re interested in how would you know what to do?
As a Marriage Counselor and Relationship Expert, I give my clients an objective, as well as subjective perspective on what actually works in the dating arena.  I have lessons for you to learn where you acquire the tools needed to make you a more socially acceptable and confident individual ready to take on whatever it is you have your eye on.
Dating Tips

Here are some first date “Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. Calm Your Nerves: If you’re anxious find something that calms your nerves like working out before the date. Not only will you feel more relaxed, you’ll look better too.
  2. Dress to Impress: First impressions matter.  Spend time on grooming, smelling good and dressing well.  But be comfortable.
  3. Coffee or Wine: Have the first date be a shorter date.  If for some reason the date goes bad, you are only committed for a short period of time.  If things go well, you can always stay longer.
  4. Show up on time (or a few minutes early): Never keep your date waiting. Tardiness sets the tone for the rest of the date and can set you up for failure.   If for some reason you will be late, call and let them know you are on your way. This will show you are responsible, considerate of their time, and making the effort to arrive as soon as possible.
  5. Be a Gentleman: Even though we’re in the “women are equal” time period, it is still good to exercise male chivalry by opening the door, pulling out the chair, and/or paying for the date.
  6. Put your cell phone away: Checking text messages or (god forbid) answering a call while you are on a first date indicates that you have something better you’d like to be doing. Turn your phone to silent and put it out of sight. If you really need to check your messages, do it in the restroom.
  7. Pay a compliment: When it comes to compliments, simple is better. “That’s a nice outfit you’re wearing”, or ”You have a beautiful smile”, can win you some points.  Be careful not to take it too far. Statements like, “Wow, you are really hot!” can send the wrong message and even feel somewhat aggressive.
  8. Ask Questions:  Find common interests by asking questions open-ended questions. This is the time to simply see if you two would be a good fit for another date.
  9. Share About You:  Don’t just keep the conversation focused on your date.  Share your interests, hobbies, or travel journeys.
  10. Joke: Break the ice by joking and sharing funny stories.  A sense of humor is always attractive.
  11. Eye Contact: Looking a person in the eyes is important. But don’t get into a staring contest or get too intense.  That can make things awkward.
  12. Enjoy the Night: Don’t over think the date! Have fun.  You deserve to have a great time.  Don’t expect to find your soulmate or get discouraged if you don’t feel an instant connection. If the date is not a total disaster, there is potential for a second one.  A decent first date can lead to a great second date.
  13. Be honest: If you don’t feel a connection, politely let them know. “I’ve had a great time talking to you tonight, but I don’t think we’re a good romantic match.” Often times, if you’re not feeling it, neither are they. However, if you get the sense that he/she is into you and you have no intention of seeing her/him again, it is better to let them know. This way you don’t have to spend two weeks dodging their phone calls. Be sure to be polite!

And now for the “Don’ts”.  

Dating Tips

  1. Don’t ask her out via Text or Email: Man-up by picking up the phone. This shows courage and genuine interest. It makes her feel like you are looking for more than just a “good time”.
  2. Don’t Pre-Drink: This is not the way to calm anxiety before a date.  People don’t usually like meeting for the first time and finding out that he/she had to have a drink to muster up the nerve.
  3. NEVER expect a woman to get in your Car: Suggest that you meet her for the date in a place that you both agree on. Don’t offer to pick her up. You know that you are safe, but she doesn’t. If you two decide to move the date to another location, ask her how she’d like to get there.  Let her lead in her comfort level and make her feel safe.
  4. Televisions around are NO-NOs! Watching television or having too much distraction is where the date can become a disaster quickly. Avoid going to a place with televisions on your first date. It will be too tempting to watch TV or get distracted and will send a message that you aren’t interested.
  5. Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry:  Don’t unload your entire life all at once.  Don’t share TOO much about you ex, your childhood wounds, or your recent breakup.  Share just enough to engage in conversation.
  6. Avoid too much Booze: Make it a 2 drink MAXIMUM! You must present yourself at your best. Too much alcohol can be a turn-off on a first date.
  7. Don’t try to impress:  People can sense when you are not being genuine.  Be yourself.  She/he agreed to go out with you because she/he found something about you interesting. If things are going to work out it will be because she/he appreciates who you really are.
  8. Don’t be Afraid of the Silences: On every first date, there may be what seems like awkward silences. If the conversation wanes for a moment or two, don’t get nervous. Give each other a moment to regroup and see if she/he comes up with something to talk about. No worries if they are quiet. That doesn’t mean they are not interested in you. She/he may just be shy. Take control of the conversation with some questions (Where are you from? Do you have siblings? How did you get started in your career?) Or share a story about your favorite restaurant in town.  Take the opportunities to let them know you are interested in learning more about them.
  9. Avoid topics that may make her/him uncomfortable: A guy can go from “normal” to “creepy” in no time at all if he starts talking about the wrong thing like sex, how much money you earn, or the fact that you are “really trustworthy and she shouldn’t be worried about being alone with you”.  Always remember that you don’t know this person or what their personal experiences have been. You want to steer clear of becoming creepy-guy/gal because that will ensure no second date.
  10. Don’t Expect A Kiss: You are on your first date and sometimes they don’t include kissing. If it happens naturally between you then go with it. However, a woman may need a few dates before she is ready to kiss you.  Don’t get discouraged. Offer a hug at the end of the date. If you are interested in seeing her again, let her know. Waiting for the second or third date for your first kiss can be romantic.
Dating Tips
If you’ve been eyeing that gal or guy at the coffee shop, gym, jogging path, dog walk, or whatever venue you frequent and just can’t get up the courage to talk because you don’t know what to say or do….call me at (858) 735-1139  and we can get started on learning how to break the ice.







What’s A Healthy Relationship Anyway

What’s A Healthy Relationship Anyway. For a relationship to be healthy, both people must be willing and able to both say no and hear no. Without that negation, without that occasional rejection, boundaries break down and one person’s problems and values come to dominate the other’s.  Conflict is not only normal, then, it’s absolutely necessary for the maintenance of a healthy relationship.  If two people who are close are not able to hash out their differences openly and vocally, then the relationship is based on manipulation and misrepresentation, and it will slowly disintegrate.

Trust is the most important ingredient in any relationship.  Without it the relationship means nothing.  A person could tell you that she loves you and would do everything for you, but if you don’t trust her, you get no benefit from that love as you don’t feel loved until you trust that the love being expressed toward you comes without any special conditions attached to it.

Healthy relationships experience conflict.  Without it, there can be no trust.  Conflict exists to show us who is there for us unconditionally and who is just there for the benefits.  Healthy love is base on two people acknowledging and addressing their own problems with each other’s support.  Unhealthy love is based on two people trying to escape their problems through their emotions for each other, using each other as an escape.

The difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship is 1) how well each person in the relationship accepts responsibility and 2) the willingness of each person to both reject and be rejected by their partner.

Healthy and loving relationships have clear boundaries between the two people and their values, and there will be an open avenue of giving and receiving rejection when necessary. Unhealthy or toxic relationships will have a poor sense of responsibility on both sides, and there will be an inability to give and/or receive rejection.

Boundaries mean the delineation between two people’s responsibilities for their own problems.  In healthy relationships, people with strong boundaries take responsibility for their own values and problems.  People in unhealthy relationships with poor or no boundaries will regularly avoid responsibility for their own problems and/or take responsibility for their partner’s problems.

Examples of Poor Boundaries:

  1. You can’t go out with your friends without me.  I’m the jealous type so that would upset me.
  2. I’d love to take that job in Los Angeles, but my mother would never forgive me for moving so far away.
  3. I can date you, but let’s not tell our parents just yet.  They don’t know you’re from out of town
  4. I have to ask my husband if I can go to that workshop with you.

In each example, the person is either taking responsibility for the problem/emotion that are not theirs or demanding someone else take responsibility for their problem/emotion. When you have unclear areas of responsibility for your emotions or actions – areas where it is unclear who is responsible for what, you never develop strong values for yourself.  Your only value becomes making your partner happy or your partner making you happy.  Either way is self-defeating.  

The mark of an unhealthy relationship is two people who try to solve each other’s problems in order to feel good about themselves.  A healthy relationship is when two people solve their own problems in order to feel good about each other.  Setting proper boundaries help and support your partner because you choose to not because you feel obligated to.

Call me at (858) 735-1139 if you need help developing a more healthy relationship.

Couples and Valentine’s Day What To Do And What Not To Do

Couples and Valentine’s Day What To Do And What Not To Do. Valentine’s Day is that special time where lovers have the opportunity to express their fond felt emotions toward one another.  Marriage Counseling brings about many discussions about disappointing Valentine’s Days. Often times expectations aren’t met and emotions come up that need to be shared so individuals can know what to expect for future event planning.


Couples and Valentine’s Day What To Do And What Not To Do:

1.  Forgetting About The “Day”

Acknowledge the day.  The world around us will be surrounding ourselves with pink hearts, red roses, and chocolate candy.  Don’t make your partner feel left out.  Validate their existence and show how they make you feel during this day of Love.

2.  Just Showing Up At A Restaurant

Make sure you have a dinner reservation.Valentine’s Day is the busiest night of the year. If you don’t have a reservation you chance not getting into a restaurant of your choice or can wait over an hour to be seated which isn’t very romantic, shows poor planning on your part, and makes for an unpleasant evening.

3.  Having Other Engagements

Keep your calendar clear that day. Even if you plan on working for just a few more minutes on a project, you can run into a time crunch and become late for your evening plans and create unhappy feelings toward your partner. Eliminate any risk of things that could interfere with a successful outcome.

4.  Avoiding Discussion About Overwhelming Gifts

Even though you may feel strongly about your loved one, especially if you are still in the “New Love Phase” of your relationship, it would be good to talk about appropriate gifts of affection so that one partner doesn’t go overboard when the other may plan on doing something simple.  This eliminates any embarrassment, hurt feelings or awkwardness because one of you is feeling like what they contributed wasn’t enough.  Even if the day is a surprise, it would be good to talk beforehand, in terms of a general feel about your Valentine’s Day plans. That way both can of you can enjoy the experience and eliminate unhappy or guilty feelings.

5.  Buying into Marketing Messages

You don’t have to spend tons of money to show your love and affection. It’s not about getting the biggest bouquet of flowers or most expensive box of candy.  Even jewelry doesn’t have to send you over your credit limit.  It’s about showing your loved one behaviorally, what they mean to you. Enhance the experience by expressing thankfulness and appreciation, as well, as you spend your special time together.

And remember love and romance isn’t just for Valentine’s Day….keep the “in-love” behavior ongoing and you’ll continue to feel like being “in-love.”

If you want to learn more about how to do that, call me now at (858) 735-1139.