4 therapy on the fly…

Under water: Navigating your relationship in times of trouble May 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 7:21 pm

Relationships are hard. Everyone laughs knowingly when I say that. But you can’t really remember just how hard they are until yours is hard once again. They are precious and therefor require a lot of work. Everyone talks about the fear of leaving a relationship which of course is scary. But the real work sets in when you decide you are going to stay. Maybe you decide this every day, picking your partner over and over again.

When we feel like we are under water in our relationship often it is because we are bumping up against each others “baggage”. My stepmother once said to me “Everyone brings baggage to a relationship we just have to make sure that our baggage matches up.” We all come into a relationship with beliefs about the relationship that…you got it…often come from your first relationships…your parents. We experience what is called transference. Which means we transfer our feelings from our primary caretakers to other important people in our lives like our partners. So if your dad was really strict you may find yourself submitting to your partner all the time and feeling really angry and resistant about it. If your mother left your family when you were young everything and anything that even slightly seems like a leaving will be much deeper and darker for you. In essence you are working out the power of what has happened to you in the past in your present relationship. This is supposed to happen. You are supposed to grow. Sometimes that growing can be very painful. The key is to work together on not working it out all over one another.

And of course there will be you folks out there who will say we never fight. To which I say Uh Oh. Are you holding stuff in? Do you say how you feel? All couples have disagreements. And then there are the glorious times…and those can and often do occur in the most simple of moments. An “I love you” from your sleepy partner when you have been up all night. The first few moments of coming home from your long day to your family and breathing a sigh of relief.

Staying above water: Points of navigation

Childish: When you bump up against each other’s baggage in the relationship chances are it feels really intense. That is because things from your childhood tend to feel much more overwhelming and encompassing than emotions from the present or recent past. It is important to understand this because these issues will feel harder to navigate. Do not mistake these feelings as having to do solely with your current relationship.

Cognitive Scale: Using a cognitive scale can help. Cognitive refers to your thoughts about yourself in reference to the world, situations, and people in your life. A simple scale starts with 1-10, 1=completely content and relaxed, 10 = feelings you experience during traumatic events, Physical Assaults, Natural Disasters, Murder, Death of a child etc. The way you use this is when you have feelings about a situation that fall between 7- 10 which is not a traumatic event this means that something that happened in the past is probably coming up for you. For example you have a disagreement with your boss which falls between a 7-10 in terms of your feelings. Maybe your father was very abusive to you and therefor any male authority figure triggers this kind of reaction. The enormity of your response to a pretty average experience can be scary. Therefor simply knowing what is happening by using this scale can help the situation feel more manageable.

Inquiry: When your feelings are registering in the higher range on the cognitive scale here are questions to ask yourself that can be helpful. How do I feel?(be as specific as possible). When have I felt like this before in my life? If you are not sure take five minutes to write or meditate on the feelings you are having in your body and heart. When you had this experience before what happened? How did you react? How can you handle the present situation differently?

Recovery: When you have the answers to these questions give yourself some time to recover from the feelings especially if they are the first time you are encountering them. Write them, draw them, express them. Remember these feelings will eventually stop and you will get through this. It can be hard as hell. Be gentle!

Space another dimension: Space really does bring another dimension to your relationship, always, but especially when you are fighting. Get out. Change your environment. Go see your friend. Take your kids to a movie. Experience something different. When things are good this gives the relationship texture and enrichment giving yourselves something else to share with one another. When the relationship is tough it brings a renewed perspective. Sometimes things get so dark between two people that you need a break from one another if only for an hour or two.

Fill in name here interruptous: This is something that we do to each other all the time. We do not fully listen to the other person, we interrupt them because we are so sure we know what they are going to say. Not only do we interrupt their flow of thoughts and expression but we do not know what that person is going to say unless we listen to them.

Emotional mad libs: This goes really well with interruptous. We think we know how someone is feeling or how they are going to finish a sentence so we finish it our own heads and assume that we are right and act off that information. I had a couple the other day who had decided to come in for more couples counseling. Reba said lets make another appointment. John assumed that Reba meant the following week. Reacted to his own incorrect assumption before clarifying his thought with her. In a matter of moments both people were not talking. Reba clarified that she had meant 3 or 4 weeks from that moment and John apologized for not clarifying. This a perfect example of how communication breaks down when we think we know what our partner is going to say without asking them. The assumptions often have nothing to do with our partners and thus the old saying assuming makes an ass out of u and me.

Jumping ship: Don’t talk about leaving unless that is really what you are contemplating doing. This constant “should I stay or go” approach wreaks havoc on the stability of your life. It also blinds us to what is actually the problem at that moment. It leaves us crushed about the prospect of possibly needing to leave the person we love and then ill equipped to deal with the actual problem, picking the kids up late constantly, needing date nights, needing to listen to each other without making assumptions.

Much like being underwater when sounds and sights become murky and tend to take on a form of their own so do our thoughts during times of trouble in our relationships especially when we are encountering feelings from the past. Talk to your partner. Tell them what is happening and how your are feeling. Listen to each other and fully allow one another to finish thoughts before speaking. Remember love is the greatest force and it is resilient when cared for. When you come up from under water breaking through the surface into a bright and seemingly other world this is often how it feels when we have come through something together as a couple. Renewed. Excited. Slightly tired but mostly hopeful. Often from trouble we grow together, become closer than before and come out trusting one another more.

(c) Cori Grachek, 2010


Springing Right out of Your Head March 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 6:48 pm

So suddenly Spring is upon us and I do mean suddenly…layers of insulation and warmth have been let go, only to be replaced by the warm sun and everyone out racing around enjoying every bit of it. Now you see all of the people emerge that you haven’t seen in, hmmm…that’s right, since Fall. People calling your name left and right, kids going to their outdoor sports, everyone at noisy cafes, gabbing on Facebook about Spring, Spring, Spring. It is a time of great change and it can be wonderfully overwhelming. Deaths, births, movings, finals or just adjusting to longer days, more time and the feeling of speed, speed, speed…I must, I must, I must.


During this time you can feel yourself being pulled in every direction. Deadlines are due. The plans we made during the winter are now coming to fruition. We are making decisions about many things in our lives…seemingly all at once. So here’s the are not alone in this..which is great, but it also means that the people that you come in contact with will not only be pulling on you but will be being pulled themselves. As we are springing forward into this glorious weather all of these components can work together in a way that makes us feel excited and overwhelmed.


When you are feeling overwhelmed and like your head is no longer attached to your body, check these:


1.Center: What do you do to center? Make sure you have some moments of stillness. Now I know you have infants, grandkids, grants, deadlines, classes to teach,attend, etc. but take 5-10 minutes to take 5-10 breaths in the morning to center. Technique: breath in and out of your nose. On your inhale count the length of the breath, on the exhale double the number. If your inhale count is 3, your exhale count will be 6. Your inhale will vary in length and count. The goal is to stretch out your breath, open your lungs fully in order to activate your Para-sympathetic nervous system, your sleep-calm response. For a more noticeable change practice this in the morning and evening and any time you feel as if you are moving too quickly or begin to feel anxious. This will slow your overall breath which moves you away from the shortened stress breathing that occurs when we feel stressed or anxious.


2.Urgency: There is a sense of urgency, must get done now, must move, change jobs, finish school, go to Haiti, now, now, now. No. You do not have to do everything at once. Stop for a moment. Get the facts. Really examine each piece of what you are trying to do. Does your child need to change schools this year, while you are moving out of your house and changing jobs? Do all of your colleagues have to consult with you all at the same time about their personal issues? Decide what needs to be done now and what you can let go of for now.


3.Pace: Move more slowly. As you feel more piling on at work, deadlines coming near, colleagues asking you to do more and more the tendency is to want to speak faster and move faster. Doing this does not mean that you actually get more done. More often you find yourself zipping around and around, feeling slightly crazy and at the very least exhausted. First slow your breath. Then pay attention to how fast you are speaking and moving. You can still accomplish a lot while breathing and speaking more slowly.


4. Multi-tasking, mono-tasking: Can you really multi-task? Is it really possible? This is why people come into my office thinking that they have ADD. And most of them don’t. We try to accomplish so many things at once that we become unfocused. Let your multi-tasking  be turning on music and sitting on the couch. Opening a window, cleaning and singing as you work. Practice doing one and only one task at a time: sitting, eating, walking, or washing dishes. Concentrate on your task. The feeling of the water on your hands, the strength you need to turn the faucet on, the texture of the soap, the smoothness of the plate. You can ground yourself with this practice throughout the day.


5. Loosing Time: I luv a good techno high. Texting, social networking is fantastic. It’s a great short hand to the universe, the closeness of our pasts and present, our thumb on the pulse of the people we care about all at once. But do you ever get off whatever is your chosen techno-tool of the moment(or all 3 going at once) and feel as if you have lost hours? Well you have… because wherever you are, you are not here and that can make you feel a bit whoosoly and out of it. So watch your intake of the techno and spend some time here with us, with yourself.


6. Distance: When things begin to feel overwhelming try to get some distance. A change of scenery is always helpful. Take a bike ride, a walk, experience somewhere else or someone else other than what is involved in making you feel overwhelmed. This helps us with perspective. Sometimes we have thought as much as we can about the multiple things that are overwhelming us and we just need a break in order to see things differently.


So enjoy yourselves folks, it is so darn gorgeous out right now you just want to eat it. So do it, but try to do it at a pace that works for you. Watch your balance between downtime and up-time. Breath. Take the pressure off and do one thing at a time. Know that your decisions are what they are. And as my father says to me, “This decision, in the larger scheme of things isn’t going to make or break your life”. Have a great time springing forward instead of springing right out of your head.

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off:)

(c) Cori Grachek,: March, 2010

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .


Singing the Blues in Springtime March 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 8:13 pm

Each year I am surprised when the light comes back. I noticed just the other day. It was 6:00 , there was a warm breeze and this magical quality to the light. And then I realized there was light, that was the magic. Now I know intellectually that each day after December 21st the days grow incrementally lighter and longer. But every year I am surprised. Why? Because each year there is a fear that this will be the year when the darkness does not recede. This is a lot like feeling depressed. You know intellectually that there will be a time when you will not feel this way but it feels as if the darkness will never recede.

As the world around us lightens, literally, it can be extremely hard to feel dark on the inside. The contrast to the colorful flowers popping their heads through the ground, and everyone walking around with giddy smiles on their faces can be a lot to bear when you are hurting. My dad once said, “I prefer a good winter, spring is a gaudy, show off, with all of it’s colors and smells.” The truth is we need both. The light and the dark. The winter and the spring. Here are some points to consider while making this transition.

Disease: If you are depressed or unsure if you are, seek the professional help of a Psychotherapist and a Psychiatrist. Why? Because Depression is serious and something that you cannot expect yourself to handle on your own. Most of us who have been depressed did not arrive there by ourselves. Whether we had the loss of someone dear to us, or the divorce or breakup of an important relationship, are dealing with the abusive wars of our childhoods, or chemicals have aligned in our bodies in a way that creates great, literal depression, or some combination, we did not arrive here alone therefor it is not fair to ourselves to think that we can “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and lift ourselves up and out. At best we are going to get really bad leather burn from too much resistance to that pulling. This is serious but manageable with the help of a professional. If someone had a serious disease you would never say to them, “Aww, come on, you can get better, just try harder.”

Sadness: Sadness is not depression. Sadness is a feeling. A feeling that we feel during a depression. Depression is a state of mind and body. The difference is that we can feel great sadness without actually being depressed.

Temporary: For most people sadness and depression are temporary. Even if the depression is chemical when you and it are treated appropriately the actual depression can be temporary. This is important because it so often feels like it will never end which is one of the reasons it is so painful. When we think to ourselves this is temporary it is easier to accept how we are feeling.

Acceptance: For many people feeling sad or being depressed feels shameful. There is a great deal of beating up of yourself that goes on about feeling this way. We need to feel this way sometimes. I am not saying that if you feel this way that you shouldn’t seek help, but that it is normal as a human being to go through transitions. We change. And sometimes these changes come through a great sadness or depression. As a therapist I look at this as “there is work to do here”. Acceptance makes that work easier to do. Without resistance we move through the experience we are having to the other side of what we need to learn from it.

How do I know if I am depressed? Is each day like walking through water? A struggle to get up to do everything and anything? Your body and every function actually feels depressed. I always say that depression is not a feeling it is a physical and emotional condition. There are all different kinds of depressions: Short term, long-term, low-grade, situational, bereavement to name a few. Have you felt like this all day, more days than not for more than two weeks? If so seek help.

Avoidance: Not all sadness and depression look sad. Sometimes it comes in the form of a great deal of activity. The person who never stops moving. Who is always doing for everyone but never for themselves. Especially if this is on the heals of a great loss of some kind this can be the avoidance of really difficult feelings. Now I am not saying don’t be a giving person. What I am saying is set aside some time to be with your own feelings. And don’t tell me you can’t. I know you have kids or an extremely important job. Things to take care of. All I am suggesting is that you are one of those things to take care of.

Darkness: We all need a little darkness. It is what adds literal depth to us. If you think of bright orange, without darkness we would never have the burnt sienna of the sun setting. As the days darkened all over our country our days became shorter. In the west people came in earlier from their day, spending time on their own and with friends and family. In the east we escaped the mounds of snow at first gratefully cabined in and then by what we hope is the last snow storm, feverishly cabined in. This is the time during which we take stock of ourselves. It is a natural coming in. Sometimes that is painful, but whatever it is it is not without learning. We need that rest and time to prepare us for the Spring.

Spring is here. And we hope we are saying goodbye to the darkness for good, or at least for this year. Someone once said at a celebration that I attended, “It is not the darkness that we are scared of but the light. It is not the failing that we are scared of but the success.” It is hard sometimes to believe that we should take up room. We are so scared of stepping on other people’s success that we sometimes don’t allow ourselves to stretch our arms out and be successful. Go ahead now. Stretch your arms. Be successful at whatever you put your mind to: Gardener, mother, reader, writer, construction worker, baseball player. And consider your successes carefully. Your doing being your success. There is enough room for all of us in this gradually enlightening world.

A word from the Tao Te Ching (loosely translated):

All life embodies Yin(dark) and embraces Yang(light), through their union achieving harmony.”

-Tao 42, Lao Tzu – Founder of Taoism(570-490 BC)

**I know this a little different from my other blogs and could stir up some serious emotion. If you need help finding help or just have a question, I am here. Your business will be held in confidence.

(c) Cori Grachek,: February, 2010

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off:)

(c) Cori Grachek,: February, 2010

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .


The Home Stretch: Express yourself 101, the final step March 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 8:11 pm

So this is the final step folks, the final frontier. Just a couple of pointers and then you are ready to go forth and express yourself. Remember the first two steps: 1. Identify how you feel and 2. Decide if you want to express that feeling(s). The final step, step 3, is the actual expression of that feeling(s). Here are 10 points to consider to make the expression of your feelings as affective as possible.

1.Frequency: Often I hear “I don’t want to be the person who never shuts up…” You do not need to tell someone every little thing that you feel, all of the time, but you do need to tell them some of the time.

 2.Importance: Decide if this is important enough to say something about. Have you felt this way with this person more than once before? Do you feel strongly about this?

 3.Precedent: It may not be that what you have to express is so important but more that the timing is right. You want to change the nature of a relationship you already have. Or you are beginning a new relationship and in your past romantic relationships or business relationships you have not been direct about how you feel and now you would like to be.

 4.The Right Time: Picking the time to express yourself is empowering. However, if you suspect that it may be difficult for you and the other person, you might want to ask them when they have time to speak. Other times it may be most helpful to wait until the situation arises again and then express yourself in the moment.

 5.Danger Zone: It never really works out all that well to speak to someone early in the morning, late at night, when they are sick, extremely tired or feeling very overwhelmed.

6.Living in this world: All this preparation is great but the truth is sometimes you need to express yourself and the ideal time may not present itself. Be gentle. Go for it.

 7.Goal: Consider the goal of your expression.

 a)Sometimes you want to express your feelings only because you need to get them off your chest. “Suzie you need to be on time. Next time you are late you are fired”.

 b)Other times you want to express your feelings because you really want the other person to hear and understand how you feel. Ex: “Suzie you have been late the last 3 out of 4 times that you have babysat for us. This makes us late. It makes us not trust you even though we really like how you take care of our children.”

 c)Sometimes you want both. Ex: “Suzy you have been late 3 out 4 times this past month. This is making it hard for us to utilize your services. Is there something going on? Is there something that you and I could do differently that might help you get here on time?”

d)Sometimes you are done!: “Suzy your fired.”

8.Be specific: I have been angry at you for the last 4 days does not tell the person much about why. Give an example of something that they have done that has made you feel angry.

9.Be gentle: You can be clear, firm and gentle all at the same time when telling someone how you feel. If you are telling someone that you are angry about something that does not mean that you have to act angry at them while you are telling them, be mean, or raise your voice.

10.Go no further: Sometimes you do not want to express your feelings to the person you are feeling them about. Express them to a friend, draw, paint, write your feelings. If they are really intense try engaging in some physical activity: running, walking, hiking, sports, yoga, dance, etc. I find the more aerobic the better. Feelings carry a lot of energy when you expend your own physical energy it helps to expend the emotional energy as well.

Alright folks, that’s it, you are ready to express yourselves. And boy am I glad to be done writing about it. Similar to how it feels after you have expressed yourself. You are glad to be done with it and let it go. And you can because you took care of your business. You expressed yourself and now its time to get on with the next moment in your life and have some darn fun while you are at it! As always, make your way gently in this world, with yourself and others.

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off:)

(c) Cori Grachek,: February, 2010

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy


To Be or Not to Be Expressive: Express Yourself, Step 2 February 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 5:30 pm


Look, I know it can be really, really hard to express yourself. It can twist you up inside. So do not mistake my confidence in you that you can do this with a disregard for how hard this can be. Especially at first. The good news is the more you express yourself the easier it gets. So now that you have taken the time to think about how you feel when something happens, the next step is to figure out what you want to do with that feeling. To be expressive or to not be expressive? That is the question.

The top reasons people do not express themselves:

  1. You do not want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
  2. You are scared of being hurt yourself.
  3. You think that it makes you weak.
  4. You don’t like to get heavy or deep.
  5. You do not come from an expressive family.
  6. You have never expressed yourself before so why start now?
  7. You are sure that you already know how the conversation is going to go, so why bother saying anything.


The top reasons to express yourself:

  1. The Tell: We always think that we are wearing an emotional invisibility cloak and that no one can tell how we are feeling. That is bubkas. They already know. the red face, hugging yourself, the steam coming out of your ears, the clipped tone, the weight in your shoulders are all telling the people around you how you feel. Take the guess work out of it. Just tell them.
  2. Hurt so good: Hurt is inevitable especially if we want someone to know us. We naturally are going to disagree with the people that we love sometimes. Each time we tell someone how we feel, we reveal a little piece of who we are. You are saying to that person I trust you with much more than just the fun and positive stuff about me.
  3. Positive correlation: The longer we hold something in that we feel intensely the larger it feels. The more you resist dealing with how you feel because you don’t want to get “heavy” or “deep” the heavier and deeper you make the situation feel. The more quickly we express something, the more open we are to discussing how we feel, the easier the situation is to manage.
  4. Start a revolution: If your family is not expressive, guess what? You are an adult. You can express yourself any way you want, you no longer have to follow their lead. You can be the teacher. Be a rebel, come on I dare you!
  5. Psychic: You are not. And even if you are your ability is not to be trusted when your emotions are running high. Listen, we never know for sure what is in someone else’s head or heart. People grow and change and they often surprise us when given the opportunity. This conversation could end differently than you think.
  6. Emotional Physics: Even if this conversation ends exactly the way you thought it would there is still something major that has changed. You! Just by expressing yourself you have changed the dynamic between you and this person forever.


So now you have the tools to decide what you want to do with that feeling. This is going to sound counter-intuitive but don’t spend too much time on it. You have read this article, given this feeling(s) the attention it deserves. Letting go and taking a break from this feeling, especially when we are unsure or confused, can really help us to decide what we want to do. So now you can let it go regardless of whether you expressed it or decided not to. Go have some fun! In my next blog we will cover expressing yourself 101, tips on how to get the best results when you decide to express yourself. For now remember, whatever you decide to do with this feeling, “this ain’t going to make or break your life!” Take it easy and have a great week!

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off:)

(c) Cori Grachek,: February, 2010

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy


Don’t go for Second Best baby, Express Yourself!: Step 1 February 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 5:53 pm


That’s right, you with the stomach ache, headache, the words constantly running through your head replayed throughout the day but never said. That’s right, you! Express yourself! Why? It causes great stress to you emotionally and physically when you hold emotions in. They come out anyway and usually in explosions, snide comments, use of drugs and alcohol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, ulcers…need I go on? Or they grow to an enormous size in your head to be relived, the conversation never had. All of those words unsaid are there for a reason and when they are said we feel more centered, lighter and clear. If this seems frilly, or too self-help for your taste take a moment to think about our greatest leaders, President Obama, Jesus, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, you better bet that they know or knew how they felt/feel about things before trying to affect anyone else’s feelings.

First step: Know thyself. So often when I ask someone how they feel about an issue they tell me how everyone else feels about it. To have successful communication first clarify how you feel.

  1. .A moment: When something happens take a moment to ask yourself how you feel before responding or acting. I recommend taking a deep breath.
  2. All are welcome: You will want to judge yourself especially when you have a feeling that you don’t like or that makes you feel uncomfortable. All feelings are appropriate. When you welcome and accept them you pass through them more quickly. When you do not acknowledge them then they control you.
  3. Learn the Language: We very seldom feel just Mad, Glad or Sad. When you are new at identifying how you feel knowing a multitude of feeling words really helps you to hone in on exactly how you feel. Uncertain, groovy, dark, fatigued, envious…Google feeling words and lots will come up.
  4. More than one: We are human. We do not feel just one way about almost anything. It is natural to feel envious, happy and excited for your friend who just got engaged.
  5. Opposing: Often we will feel opposing feelings about a situation. We may feel excited, scared and sad to be moving out of a small apartment into a larger new one. Or feel relieved and heartbroken when someone dies.
  6. Unsure: Feeling unsure, not ready or confused are still feelings. If you feel these feelings about a situation give yourself a break and check in later. 

At this point you might be thinking, OK I got this know thyself first step. And maybe you do. But for many of you it will take a while to even think about how you feel since you have skipped this step for so long or weren’t even aware that it existed. So your assignment is to start small. When your Whole Foods check out person smiles at you ask yourself how you feel. Maybe it felt sweet? Maybe it felt creepy? When your partner tells you where they want to eat that night, think about how you feel about that. As always be gentle with yourself in your search for the truth. Think about how much hurt in this world could be eliminated if we took the time to know ourselves just a little better.

Jelaluddin Rumi said it best in a poem he wrote in 1230 (bet he knew how he felt).

The Guest HouseThis being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.  A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.  Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.  The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.  Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.– Rumi


**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off:)

(c) Cori Grachek,: May, 2009

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy


Snake in the Grass: Managing the Passive Agressive Person in your Life February 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — corigrachek @ 4:57 pm


So far Psychobabble4u has covered anger in many forms: Anger gets a Bad Rap, The Verbally Aggressive Person, The Bully in Your Head. Now to the hardest angry person to spot in the bunch,  the passive aggressive(PA).  This is the person who delivers their anger with a smile.  Their compliments and questions sting with the hidden insult.  And they leave in their wake a high level of discomfort and a great deal of uncertainty as to what has just occurred. To be passive aggressive means to act your anger out in an indirect way. In my opinion, this is the hardest type of angry person to deal with.  Ill take a jerk or a b____ any day over the sneaky, sliveryness of the passive aggressive snake.

“Your hair is so red.”  “Your shoes are so high.”  “Your bag is so big.”  ” Ooh I can never wear my pants tucked into to my boots because they always get so scrunched up at the top of the boot.” Your colleague says to you in the bathroom gesturing at your boots.  You nod and look down at the bunches of pants at the top of your boots.  Your guest, eying the blanket you just passed her, murmurs,” you will have to take me to all of those cheap stores you have out here.”


  1. The PA: How does this happen?
    1. Parental Behavior: Many PA’s have watched their parent (s) deal with anger in this indirect way so they model what they have learned.
    2. The Rule of Thumb: This trait is more closely associated with women for a reason. The ‘rule of thumb’ has been said to derive from 18th Century English law which allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick so long as it is was no thicker than his thumb. This kind of environment would not allow women to express any kind of anger directly. PA allowed women to express anger and exert power without challenging a man directly.
    3. Many PA’s have accumulated a great deal of anger over years of not expressing their anger directly. (making nasty comments does not get rid of the feeling of anger).
    4. Impulse Control: There is a lack of impulse control. We do not need to say every nasty thought that comes into our head.
    5. Often PA’s are uncomfortable with themselves and therefor feel more comfortable when we are uncomfortable as well.
    6. Sometimes the indirectness comes from not wanting confrontation, to disappoint other people or hurt them in anyway.  Which is so ironic because this indirectness often creates all of these things.
  2. We all have a little PA in us: The truth is we are human, and we all have slightly wicked, unnecessary thoughts in our head and sometimes they are going to slip out.  The difference is with a true PA they have been doing this for so long it is almost a career path. Often they are unaware of doing it and of the effect that it has.
  3. Dealing with the PA:
    1. Emotionally Direct: “What you just said sounds like a compliment but it stings like an insult.”
    2. Direct (slightly confrontational):
      1. “Thank you, my hair is Red, you are very observant.”
      2. “Are you saying you do not like the color of my hair?”
    3. Perplexed (this is a beauty): “I’m sorry I don’t know what you mean when you say my shoes are so high?” ( let them explain their PA comment to you.)
    4. Positive: “ I’m glad you like this blanket I just bought you one.”
    5. When in doubt ignore! “How about those Phillies?!”

 There is hope for you if you are one of these people.  You may not even have recognized this trait in yourself until you read this article. No worries. Start to change this by paying attention to how you deal with your anger when you feel angry. Read Anger gets a Bad Rap (love these self-congratulatory self-references:))

Ultimately, many people who use this as their main form of communication become isolated. Other people do not know how to handle them so they ween them out of their lives. When you are direct with a PA, your directness draws attention to their indirectness. Sometimes for the first time ever. You are offering them an opportunity to change and you are not walking away feeling as if you just got smacked in the face. You are helping the snake to shed some of its protective skin and become a more open version of itself. Maybe a Gardner snake. Anyway, at the very least, you now have a better chance of spotting this snake in the grass and dealing with it.

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off:)

(c) Cori Grachek,: May, 2009

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy


Fake it Till You Make it: Silencing the Bully in your Head January 17, 2010


 You might be the one individual who has never had a doubt about themselves, has said never said to themselves that they can’t do something, aren’t good enough, are too fat, round, slow, lazy, etc. If so then stop reading. You are one perfectly adjusted human being. This article isn’t for you. This is for the rest of the human race that at one time or another has said some pretty nasty things to themselves and needs to learn how to chill out and be much, much, much kinder.. And here is the clincher. In the beginning you don’t have to believe the kinder words you say towards yourself, you just have to say them and let the power of the words affect you. In other words, as my father was fond of saying to me, “fake it till you make it”.

  1. The Effect that words have on us. The way your coffee barista delivers your coffee to you in the morning effects how you feel. If they offer your coffee up with a smile, and say, ‘Hey Joe, how are you today?” That feels really different then if they offer your coffee without any facial expression or worse if they barely even acknowledge you. Or my personal favorite, when they treat you as if you are bothering them, at which point you have to question why you go there at all…is the coffee that good? My point being that words have power and it is very hard to take the power away from them. On the positive tip the power of words can offer forgiveness, support and love. That is one of the reasons we pray, meditate, say the rosary, say thank you, because words affect us and others.
  2. Why the words we say to ourselves are so important. If the words we say to others have such an effect then so do the words we say to ourselves. People come to see me for therapy for many different reasons but the common theme is that they treat themselves badly. However, it is never the primary reason they come to see me. People in general do not value the way they speak to or about themselves. They think that saying horrible, mean things to themselves is secondary to their depression, anxiety, relationships, loss. It is not secondary and often I find it to be one of the main problems contributing to why they are feeling so badly.
  3. Words as Punches. If you put it into physical terms, if every nasty word you say to yourself is actually a punch that blackens your eye or bloodies your mouth or your nose then the way in which this cripples you becomes more apparent. If you have ever been unfortunate enough to have had any of these injuries then you know that it puts your body into a state of shock , you can’t think clearly and it certainly does not motivate you to go out do amazing things for yourself or others. Beating yourself up emotionally has the same effect on you. It stops you from trying new things, feeling good about your accomplishments, accepting love or treating yourself well. It immobilizes you. And eventually can send you into a deep depression, riddle you with anxiety , completely immobilize you or make you feel thoroughly dissatisfied with life.
  4. Why do we do this ? We learn to be hard on ourselves at a very young age because that is when we first  hear these negative words. Most people are repeating things that they have heard from parents, sisters ,brothers, grandparents, coaches, teachers, all the important people that really leave a mark on us . For some of us the damage is localized. You might have many doubts about your physical ability to be healthy, active, sexy, but when it comes to business you are confident and assured. For others it is pervasive effecting every aspect of life. We hear things about ourselves at a young age that we repeat to ourselves over the term of our lives. “You are lazy”. “You are fat”. “You can always do better”. Sometimes these words have been said to us to hurt us and belittle us. Sometimes they have been said to encourage us but we do not interpret them in this way. Whatever the case is they only hurt us at this point.
  5. So what do you do? You fight like hell is what you do. These tapes (or i-tune downloads I guess you would say at this point) have been playing in our ears for years. So often these words have absolutely nothing to do with who we are or what we actually accomplish. I have had neurosurgeon tell me they are not good enough, beautiful women tell me how ugly they are, and accomplished, motivated people tell me how lazy they are. These were probably not your words originally but now they are your problem. So you have to really commit to working on this.
  6. First, Awareness. Catch yourself when you are being hard on yourself. Remember these nasty words can be as mild as, ‘I don’t think I can do this’, and as severe as ‘I am such a loser, nothing I do is good enough”. Keep a written documentation of the words you say to yourself. The number of times a day you say them. Under which circumstances are you most likely to say them. This will give you an idea of who said these words to you first. How hard you are on yourself and in which situations this is most likely to occur. This will make you aware of the problem. Many people have been doing this so long that they do not even know when they are doing it.
  7. Second, Talking Back. Decide what you are going to say back to yourself when you are hard on yourself. If you have written down the words you use to be hard on yourself then you can begin by writing a positive counter to those words proving them wrong. If you are giving a presentation at work and you are saying to yourself, ‘I am going to blow this, I can’t do this”. Instead say “I am doing the best that I can and that is good enough”, or “I am going to kick ass at this”.

I tell you that this will not come easily but that you can do this. You don’t have to believe the words you say to yourself just commit to saying them. Once you start you will gradually feel the difference. Perhaps you will feel lighter, more positive or more confident, but you will feel a change in some way. If the commitment is difficult for you then commit to doing it for a week. Call it an experiment.

Let me know how it goes.

Keith Olbermann said it best,

“The world bursts at the seams with people ready to tell you you’re not good enough…do not do their work for them. Seek any job; ask anyone out; pursue any goal. Don’t take it personally when they say “no” — they may not be smart enough to say “yes”.”

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off….

(c) Cori Grachek,: January, 2010

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy


The Best Defense is a Sound Offense: Dealing with the Verbally Aggressive Person January 11, 2010


Picking up the phone at work the first thing I hear is my cousin screaming, ‘You are horrible you never pick up the phone to call me, I have needed you and you have not been there! All you do is think of yourself!’ ‘Well I don’t know what to say’, I respond shocked, ‘We have the same type of job, you know during the school season is our busiest time.’ She interrupts again,’But you could have called me! You are really selfish!’.

Your cousin is taking her anger out on you. When someone is screaming at you, all you hear is the screaming. You barely register what they are saying. What she is upset about is unclear. You are too busy trying to understand why she is screaming at you.

You are so shocked that your cousin is screaming at you that the first thing you do is get defensive. Which is often how we react when someone is attacking us. Defending ourselves does not get us anywhere. It continues an exchange that no-one benefits from and has the potential to quickly escalate into a full-blown fight. When your cousin is screaming at you it is really easy to respond by screaming back. The goal here is to stop the aggression not to continue it.

Your best defense is a sound offense. Meaning that a more useful approach is to assess and address the way she is treating you instead of defending yourself. So in the moment you need to create a pause between the time she is screaming at you and how you respond to her. In order to do this you need some time to think about how you want to respond. This is difficult to do while she is screaming at you but it can be done. It is much easier to do in the moment when you have taken the time to think about how you would like to respond in this type of situation when you are calm. Sort of a “stop, drop and roll” approach to dealing with aggression.

The first step in being offensive is to breathe. Why breathe? To stop the cycle of aggression you need to have some distance from the situation. When someone hurts our feelings or screams at us it usually elicits a stress response( fight or flight response). Our heart rate increases, eyes dilate, adrenaline shoots into our blood stream and our breathing becomes short and rapid thus signaling to our bodies that we are close to some type of trauma. This is why feel like “we are seeing red”, or feel heat shooting through our heads and our faces getting hot, begetting the term “hot head”. Elongating your breath slows your stress response which can provide you with the time and distance you need from a situation like this in order to make a calm decision about how you would like to handle it.

The second step is to decide if, how, when and where you want to have this conversation. When your cousin is screaming at you on the phone at work it is easy to forget that you do not have to speak to her. You can choose to have the conversation at another time in another place of your choice. You can point out to her the tone of the conversation and change it. Or you can decide not to have the conversation at all. When responding remember that you can be gentle and firm at the same time. You do not have to respond with anger even when you feel it. The goal is to have the conversation in a way that works for both of you.

You can say, ‘You need to stop screaming at me or I will get off the phone right now’ or ‘I am getting off the phone, I am at work and I am not going to speak to you while you are screaming at me. I will call you back when I am not at work and you are not screaming so that we can have a conversation’.

If you decide to call her back you can set some boundaries. Tell her how you felt about the previous conversation, how you will handle her being nasty or screaming if she does it again. Let her know that you want to hear what they she has to say, especially if something you have done has hurt her or made her feel angry. Let her know that you can’t hear what they are she is saying when she screams and that you will not speak with her if she is going to treat you that way. Next time when she has a problem she needs to let you know so you both can pick a time to talk about it. Attacking you is not an option.

There are some people who will continue to scream at you or berate you when they are upset. At this point you really need to consider whether this is a person you want in your life. Does this person make your life better? Easier? At the very least you cannot allow them to continue to treat you this way. The minute they begin to scream, leave the room, get off the phone. Limit the time you spend with them to time that works for you. Maybe shorter spans of time, maybe no overnights. It is unfair and unhealthy to be treated in this way for a long period of time by anyone!

When you are offensive in response to being attacked instead of being defensive you are teaching this person how you want to be treated. You are letting them know that you want to know when they are upset. If your cousin begins to trust that she can speak to you even when she is angry and upset with you this will only serve to build a stronger relationship. In this “stop, drop and roll” approach to dealing with aggression you have a plan and therefor will be less caught off guard when this happens. Lets face it. Everyone gets angry. Everyone yells sometimes. It is important for us to know how to deal with someone being aggressive towards us without becoming aggressive ourselves. That we can choose how we want to deal with the situation instead of just reacting.

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

(c) Cori Grachek: May 2009

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy


New Years Resolutions: Getting them done January 1, 2010

Hi Everyone,

This is Cori from Psychobabble4u.  Today is about creating resolutions you can actually keep.   Make them doable by underestimating what you are capable of doing.  I know that is puzzling.  Here is an example.  I was out to dinner with a couple of friends the other night.  And my partner said “Ok everyone let’s go around the table so each of us can make a resolution for the new year…”   Everyone kind of groaned but we all agreed.  My friend Mary who is a ferocious dog walker, not towards the dogs but towards her own work ethic, groaned the most.  Mary never takes a day off.  So she piped in and said “perhaps I can take a day off, maybe Sundays’. We all exclaimed at the same time…me with beaucoup skepticism.  “Really!!??”  ” “Well not really..”,  she replied, “I don’t think I can , but maybe I will try.”  “Seriously Mary”,I said, “that does not seem very realistic, and it definitely doesn’t sound as if your going to take any time off.”  She shrugged and smiled.  “OK Mary”,  ” How about I get all therapeutic on you and make this actually doable. What if you take one Sunday off a month?”  “Ohhh.”, she said and  smiled, “I can do that.  Or maybe just one day off a month period.” “Ooooh…” everyone excalimed being  mucho impressed  by my therapeutic skills, considering  they never get to see me work,  all the confidentiality gets in the way.    Mary came up with a doable goal by underestimating what she was expecting herself to do.  In terms of Mary do I think that she will actually take off a day a month.  Probably not.  But will an option that is actually doable for her at least be in her mind.  Yes.

 You are doing this because you want to.  So here are some helpful hints.

1.  Make a few goals, 1 is great, 10 at the most, rather than so many that you can’t  remember all of them.

2. Make each goal very specific,  ie: which gym will you go to, how will you pay for it, how often will you go.  The more specific you are, the more you flesh out how you will attain this goal, the easier it will be to complete it.

3. Underestimate rather than overestimate. Ie: Rather than saying I am going to the gym 5 times a week and getting burnt out or not even starting because you are so intimidated by the goal itself. Say instead that you will go 2 times a week or even once a week.  This is a goal that is realistically achievable. 

4.  Pay attention to yourself, set your goal accordingly.  There will always be Expert information on whatever subject your goal has to do with: Ending  a bad relationship, losing weight.  Expert information is important but no one knows you better than you.  Talk to that ex of yours once a month if that is what you think will work for you rather than going “cold turkey”.  Go walking twice a week rather than the 3times that is purported by the experts.  You are the only expert on yourself.

5. Write your goals down  in  large handwriting and place it where them will be visible to you on a daily basis. Make it your screensaver on your phone, computer.

6. Fake it till you make it.  Be consciously positive about your goal.  Fight (really hard) the negative tapes and i-tune downloads of the past.  Words are important they change the way we feel about ourselves.  Think about how much the words, thank you, can affect you.  Every time you say, “Oh I don’t think I can do this say..”, instead say, “Yes I can!” 

And most of all in this new year, be gentle.  Be gentle with yourself about your resolutions and celebrate every teensy, tinsy victory.  When you sign up for the gym or decide not to take his call today or even think about taking a Sunday off a month, celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.  Be gentle to this world that lovingly supports us.  Be gentle to the people you love and especially the ones that you don’t.  And then most importantly be gentle with yourself which makes all the other”gentles” possible.  We are living in hard times and being hard on ourselves does not make them easier.  I was reminded while watching the ball drop last night and listening to Kathy Griffin completely overpower and befuddle Anderson Cooper, how connected our world is.  Watching the celebration of the new year in Hong Kong, Germany, Russia, London, how close we are.  All of us happy all over the world cheering over the same thing, a new year, a new decade and a new time.

Happy New Year… now that’s a resolution worth keeping.

any questions about this blog please feel free to email me at:

**If you like this blog please share it (use the SHARE button)…we all know somebody who could use a little help…:)**

Psychobabble4u signing off…

(c) Cori Grachek,: January, 2010

If you have any questions about therapy, are interested in therapy or just have a more private thought or question that you would like to share with me I can also be reached at .

**This is not and can never be a replacement for therapy