2021: What Kind of Year Will You Create for Yourself?

Traditionally, at the end of the year, we talk about making resolutions. What are the things we want to do to change our lives? We make a list and start out with good intentions, but within 30 days that list has usually gone into the garbage pail. It’s not that we don’t have a desire to change, it is that the list is too long, not prioritized, and we haven’t figured out the “why,” the real reason we want to do those things.    But after a year like 2020, a year of a presidential … [Read more...]

Alone On Thanksgiving Day?

  Whether you are alone because your family lives far away or because the COVID-19 pandemic prevents you from being together, it is important to think about how you want the Thanksgiving holiday to go. For many single individuals, who make up about a third of all households, Thanksgiving (and Christmas or Chanukah) can feel gloomy or sad if there is no one to share it with. It is hard to ignore all those family scenes in commercials, and joyous songs just don’t make up for a shared meal and hugs … [Read more...]

How to Communicate Better with People You Care About – Part 2

    In the previous blog, I talked about some simple rules for better communication, like avoiding old history and labeling. Today, I Want to add some more complex guidelines that are really useful when trying to navigate a difficult situation with someone you care about. It goes without saying that someone will be more receptive to hearing what you say if you keep your body language open and welcoming. How you look to others tells them how willing you are to communicate. If your arms are … [Read more...]

How to Communicate Better with People You Care About – Part 1

Recently I was asked to give a talk about how people can communicate better with one another.  I was searching my files and found a handout that I have used in my practice for years.  It is called The Ten Commandments of Clean Communication.  It was given to me by a former mentor, and it has no attribution on it, so I don’t know if she wrote it herself, or if it came from a book she read many years ago.  As I looked it over, I thought it was the best set of communication guidelines I have seen, … [Read more...]

Empathy vs Sympathy

There are many times when we don’t know what to say. A friend’s spouse is ill, someone doesn’t get the promotion they really wanted, or someone is just having a really down day. We feel stumped and either say nothing or end up saying something we later think is stupid or wrong. In my job teaching medical residents, I work with them on empathy and how to use empathic words. Often, however, what comes out is just “I’m sorry.” When we talk about empathy, we really mean trying to stand … [Read more...]