Essays

Oh, Sweet Surrender

How to Accept the Unacceptable Exactly what does it mean to surrender? Give up? Concede? Capitulate? Acquiesce? Fail? The word seems to have a universally accepted implication of doom, right? It’s about defeat. Oxford’s interpretation is “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” Ugh. Who wants to do that? But…

Quagmire: The Joy and Heartache of Relationships

Why are healthy, mutually satisfying relationships so difficult to attain and sustain? Wouldn’t it be easier just to live among the plants and animals on a desert island? Before you answer in the affirmative, consider science. Human beings are neurobiologically created to live in connection with each other. That is a scientifically proven fact. Yet,…

How to Reframe Performance-Oriented Identity

Why Who You Are is Not What You Are. Most of us harbor a self-critic in the amygdala of our brain. It operates on a continuum ranging from selective and reserved to vocal and harsh. While a modicum of self-criticism is necessary and probably desirable, too many of us take it to the extreme. The…

Bittersweet: Saying Goodbye to Clients

Yesterday, my very first client, Evan, and I completed our therapeutic journey together. The experience was poignant, humbling, and empowering for both of us. It was a milestone in my new career as a therapist – a passage I had dreaded. Early in my master’s program, a professor asked me to share my greatest fears…

Is Your Therapist a “Wounded Healer?”

When my sons were in middle and high school, they played basketball with two brothers whose parents were a bit wacky. They were just a little too invested in the performances of their sons and the outcome of their games. Ironically, both father and mother were mental health professionals. I distinctly remember one of the…

Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Athletes

The Fall sports season is here. Millions of fans are again packing stadiums throughout the country. I’m not so sure that’s advisable, but this story isn’t about COVID. It’s about the mental health needs of athletes and how we can help them become more emotionally fit. Leaders in college athletics and professional sports have spoken…

It’s Easier Not to Be Great.

How performance-based identity dysregulates athletes. The Tokyo Olympics have concluded, but the mental health challenges of so many athletes remain. Gymnast Simone Biles catapulted the issue front and center in the midst of the competition. Her courageous acknowledgment follows the stories of Michael Phelps, Aly Raisman, Kevin Love, and many other high-profile Olympic, professional, and…

The Paradox of Mental Health Diagnosis

Navigating the Yin and Yang Show of hands. Who absolutely despises the notion of paradox? Who has a hard time accepting that two opposites can both be true? Because we are a complex species, our cognitive and emotional processes are not limited to but a single set of personality traits, values, or behaviors. We don’t…

The Wrong One Died: Face-to-Face with Survivor’s Guilt

As I prepared to start my graduate school counseling studies, I began reading psychiatrist Irvin Yalom’s book, “Love’s Executioner.” The book is a compilation of patient case studies, which provides a fascinating peek under the hood for a future therapist. Since I’m naturally curious about people and what makes us tick, Yalom’s book was hard…

Eyes Wide Shut: Why are We So Gullible?

I think most of us understand that this country is in the midst of the most acute and chronic era of divisiveness since the Civil War. Too many of us are holed up in our respective silos. It’s us against them; my camp versus your camp. We’re right, you’re wrong. We know the truth, you’re…

Who I Am is Not What I Am: The Curse of Performance-Based Identity

Most of us harbor a self-critic in the Amygdala of our brain. It operates on a continuum ranging from selective and reserved to vocal and harsh. While a modicum of self-criticism is necessary and probably desirable, too many of us take it to the extreme.The genesis often occurs in childhood when we get the message…

Take Nothing for Granted. It’s Great to Be Alive.

“Take nothing for granted. It’s great to be alive.” I’ve heard those words uttered by Chicago disk jockey Lin Brehmer dozens of times. The phrase has been his mantra for years. And, every time I’d hear it I’d tell myself he’s absolutely right. We have all taken so much for granted every day of our…

God Doesn’t Play the Blame Game.

Why is it that so many of us look to assign blame when the shit hits the fan? Everything has to be somebody’s fault: our boss, our parents, our sibling, our spouse, the yahoo down the street, politicians, the media, God. Tragedy is part of life. It happens every day. Sometimes there’s an obvious villain…

The Gift of Tim Green’s Grace

Tim Green played for the NFL Atlanta Falcons for 8 seasons.I met Tim Green in 1982. He was a freshman football player at Syracuse University. I was a young TV sportscaster covering his ascent to stardom. We became friends.This past weekend, 37 years later, Tim’s number 72 was retired and raised to the rafters at his…

Ready, Set, Go. A 64-year-old’s First Day of Grad School.

The author poses on the campus of Northeastern Illinois University.It’s incredibly difficult to fathom, but I’m just seven months away from my 65th birthday. Holy shit! Some of my same-aged friends are at this very moment planning for imminent retirements. Others have already stepped away from their respective vocational rat races. But not me.I guess…

Happy Father’s Day Asshole

Have you gone shopping for a Father’s Day card? If so, you’ve undoubtedly seen dozens of greetings that state, in essence, I am who I am today because of you, Dad. The verse inside may use words like love, acceptance, guidance, caring, kindness, role model, and hero.But, what if one of those sentiments isn’t quite…

It’s Not Your Fault

The 1997 movie Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite films for a number of reasons. Each of the main characters is deeply flawed, lonely, fearful, and trying desperately to mask the pain that envelops them.Among the numerous powerful and poignant scenes in the film is a breakthrough moment in the relationship between psychologist…

Holier than Thou: The Scourge of Religious Hypocrisy

I am sick to death of religious hypocrisy. It’s a widespread, ever-burgeoning malady that infects our relationships, communities, institutions, politics, and even our families.I first experienced this ungodly paradox while attending a parochial elementary school in the Midwest. A cadre of old ladies, mostly widows I assume, were regulars at daily Mass. And without fail,…


Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

%d bloggers like this: