Center of Attention–The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson

Center of Attention: The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson follows Sanderson as he wins two Stanley Cups alongside his friend and teammate Bobby Orr, becomes a nightclub owner and coast-to-coast celebrity, widely known as “The Joe Namath of Hockey,” and signs what was then the richest contract in the history of pro sports, only to lose it all in a haze of booze and drugs.

Sanderson’s addictions almost killed him – but that wasn’t the end of his story. He would emerge from the darkness to undertake a comeback few believed possible.

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How to pick your next partner

Originally published by Expert Beacon:
https://expertbeacon.com/dating-after-divorce-how-pick-your-next-partner/#.VPb6mC7KMW7

 

 

You found the courage to end your last relationship. Maybe the relationship ended amicably. Maybe it had a dramatic and painful ending, perhaps in divorce. Either way you are finished with the relationship and are looking to begin to date. You may have some fear and apprehension about getting back in the dating game. To find the right person you need a plan. Here are some dos and don’ts for your plan to finding your next partner.

Do

allow time for healing

Ending relationships are hard. It is normal to have feelings of grief and sadness as well as anger and fear. Give yourself the time to heal and process these feelings. If you need additional support, find a good therapist who can help you with loss as well as to look for possible patterns in your relationships.

make the right choice

Most of us don’t make a major purchase impulsively. We research, talk to others, and identify what our needs are. Why wouldn’t you do that for your next partner? Identify what you want in a relationship and don’t settle for someone who doesn’t meet your needs.

pay attention

You started dating again but there is something about this person that bothers you. Pay attention to it. The old adage, “If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right,” is true with people as well.

talk to others

There is no reason to keep your date a secret from family and friends. Let everyone meet him/her. They will have opinions and insights to share. It’s more data to work with in order to make your decision.

feel the chemistry

There is no reason to keep your date a secret from family and friends. Let everyone meet him/her. They will have opinions and insights to share. It’s more data to work with in order to make your decision.

 

 

Don’t

repeat the past

If you are paying attention to your relationship history, you know what types of people you are attracted to. You also know which people didn’t work out the first time. It probably won’t work the second, third or fourth time either!

date everyone

Just because Mary from bookkeeping is single or Bob from shipping is available doesn’t mean that you should date them. Be clear about who you want to be with and stay with that plan. No one has ever died from being lonely. It feels crappy but probably won’t cause death.

ignore the “flags”

You know what flags are: they are the comments that are made, the illogical behaviors that occur, the stories that you question. Communicate about them. Pay attention to them. Don’t excuse them because you really like the person.

listen to everyone

Everyone thinks they know everything about relationships. They are more than happy to share their beliefs, opinions, feelings about who would be best for you. You have an idea about who your ideal partner is — listen to yourself.

think that the relationship will get better
If you are dating someone and there is regular conflict, major areas of disagreement, or addiction/mental health issues, these will not improve by themselves. The relationship will continue to be affected by these issues — they won’t go away. Love will not make them better; only the other person can make them better.

 

Summary

In order to pick your next partner, you need to look inward. You need to pick “the best athlete available” — the one that fits your needs! It’s ok to be afraid and apprehensive. Collect data from both your heart and your head. Don’t be afraid to eliminate people from your search. Pay attention to the “flags”, listen to yourself. You will know when you have found the right person.

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The Same Old Song

I write the same old song with a few new lines
And everybody wants to cheer it
Pete Townshend

Our scene is your local music club. The house band is the same week after week. They play covers of very popular songs. Their set is very singable. The audience knows the words, the riffs, the rhythms and beats. The band plays 10 songs for their set. They play it the same way each night. Not faster, not slower, not louder, not softer. The audiences loves the band. Their music is predictable, it is familiar, and it feels right.

One day the house band gets a new guitarist. He does not play the songs the same way as the old guitarist did. He takes some musical risks with the songs. He in fact plays the songs differently. He is much more unpredictable in his playing. You never know how the song will sound. In fact, in backstage meetings with the band, he wants to change the set list. He wants to play different songs. He challenges his band mates to play some different music. The band is afraid that the people won’t like their new style. They are afraid the people won’t sing along. Their worst fear is that people will stop coming to the show and they will lose their regular “gig”.

Change is possible is not just a marketing slogan, it’s a fact of life. Everything changes. The seasons change, the clocks change, technology changes, we change. We change for the better and at times we change for the worst. Paul Watzlawick in his landmark family therapy book entitled Change . says that “change is inevitable”. If it’s so inevitable, then why do we stand in our own way and prevent change from occurring? Why do we sing the “same old songs”

Most people who come to see me are your predictable house band. They do what they do. Not faster, not slower, not better, not worse. The same. Sure they have pain, but it’s predictable. Sure they feel crappy, but they know the crappiness. Sure the pain causes problems and consequences in their daily life, but to change is incredibly scary. When people have addictive behaviors you can set your watch by their schedule of self-destructiveness. It doesn’t matter if it’s a drink, a drug, a bet, a buy, or a relationship. Their weapons of self-destruction are masterfully predictable. Their song remains the same.

Other types of problems fit the same pattern. The solutions to anxiety and depression are fairly simple—do the opposite of what you usually do and feel better. To do these things however requires me to change the “set list”. I know these songs, I play them well. To change what’s known to the unknown is way too scary! What will happen if I give up my old ways? Will I know what to do? Will others like the changes? Will I like the changes? Can I conceive of new music that sounds radically different than the old set list? Is it ok to even have this thought?

In order to make change, I need to utilize a very powerful five letter word, trust. Trust is defined by Webster as “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc” If I trust myself, I believe at my core, that I am a good person. This goodness can lead me to make change because I want to feel better. However, many people cannot see their own positives. They can only see their own negatives. They may need to supplement this trust in self by using positive affirmations. When people utilize this ongoing self-talk dialogue, they begin to change negatives to positives. (for specific directions on how to use affirmations go here) .

One other tool that many people use for change is to develop faith in a higher power. Higher power is defined as being a power greater than self. By believing in a higher power, people begin to give up control. They then can use this higher power to have trust and another great five letter word, faith. With faith and trust on board, change is possible and inevitable. The music can change. We can play different songs instead of the same old ones. We can challenge the fears of change and hear new music. We might even go to a different club and hear a different band. We can get away from the old destructive patterns and find new healthy ones. We can find new happiness and have a rewarding life. Let’s change the music.

Change is possible.

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Digging in the dirt

I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

Peter Gabriel

 

 

Recently,  the Rock and Roll Hall of  Fame inducted Peter Gabriel.  As the front man for the band Genesis, Gabriel’s elaborate costumes got the band noticed.  His unique singing and writing led to the band’s success. In 1986, Gabriel left Genesis and released the album So which sold five million copies. His next album Us was released six years later.  On that album you will  find the  song Digging in the Dirt.

According to Gabriel,Digging in the Dirt  is a song about his therapy.  There are many interpretations about the song.  These include domestic violence, murder and many others.(you can find more of those here.)  Since there are no factual interpretations, please indulge my therapeutic perception .

This is the chorus of the song :

This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]
This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real
Digging in the dirt
Stay with me, I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

The beginning part,

This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]
This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real

 

I believe  this is Gabriel’s fear and  shame  speaking.  He wants to run, avoid, and not deal with the places he got hurt.  Gabriel is shaming himself with the repeated yelling “this time you’ve gone too far/ I told you”.  He knows that he should not be sharing his innermost thoughts with anyone( a message perhaps that he received in childhood).  In the next part of the song, Gabriel sounds like a small boy who is hearing what he needs to do :

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real

Gabriel’s inner shame and self loathing have taken over.  He is worthless, afraid, and ashamed.

Although afraid and ashamed, Gabriel is aware that he is in need of the therapist’s help. Later in the chorus he finds his healthy voice:

Digging in the dirt
Stay with me, I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

The phrase “stay with me I need support” is a request to  the therapist to be with him on this journey of “finding the places I got hurt”.  He knows that he is in a trusting therapeutic relationship because he not only wants to find those places, he wants to “open up the places I got hurt”.

Gabriel sounds calmer, less shamed, and very aware in the next verse:

The more I look, the more I find
As I close on in, I get so blind

He knows there’s a bunch of issues that he has to find.  He gets overwhelmed as he starts to uncover the pain.

This song is a great example of the therapeutic process.  The chorus is so appropriate for many people that I have seen over the years.

I  have seen  clients having a  “this time you’ve gone too far” reaction  many times by doing the following:

  •  having “hot flashes” (men too)
  • getting uncomfortable physically–fidgeting, playing with pens, keys, pillows, etc
  • needing an immediate bathroom break
  • standing up
  • abruptly changing the subject
  • leaving the session

Like Gabriel’s experience, therapy is scary.  It’s full of fear, pain, shame and guilt.  People keep looking and finding.  They keep asking “why” sometimes without answers.  Sometimes they find answers that they don’t like. Sometimes people become aware that they need to take action and those actions are overwhelming and scary.   Sometimes there are no answers, only questions.  Sometimes, my best and only contribution, is my understanding of the pain, sadness, and loss that my client is feeling.

I’ve seen many clients over the years go through storms in order to find their rainbow (If you’d like to read more on this topic,  go to one of my old blogs “You can’t have a rainbow without a storm”).   I enjoy the experience of seeing people make changes in their lives.  As we “dig in the dirt”,  we get to plant seeds and crops that grow year after year.  They are fruitful, they are plentiful, and they are healthy.  Don’t be afraid to dig–Change is Possible!

 

 

 

 

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Manny Being Manny

“…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”

 

It’s getting close to one of my favorite times of the year–the start of baseball season.  In order to get ready for the upcoming season, it’s important to have a historical perspective.  As a die hard New York Yankee fan, I am going to commit a blasphemous act–I am going to discuss a legendary Boston Red Sox player.  Manny Ramirez was their left fielder for 8 years, and was probably one of the Sox’ most popular player.  He had a knack of saying the wrong things at the wrong time, losing track of the game, and generally being on his own planet.  Redsox fans described this as Manny being Manny.This  video describes many of these Manny being Manny moments:

Wikipedia finishes our Manny Ramirez story:

In 2009 he was suspended 50 games for violating baseball’s drug policy by taking human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a women’s fertility drug.According to steroid dealer Victor Conte, hCG is often used to restart natural testosterone production after a steroid cycle.In the spring of 2011, Ramirez was informed by MLB of another violation to its drug policy, which could result in a 100-game suspension. He chose to retire on April 8 rather than face a 100-game suspension.

You would expect nothing different from Manny since he was a person who played by his own rules.  Although an exciting and charismatic player,  Manny was always being Manny.

In our daily lives, we are unlikely to find a Manny Ramirez.  We will however find people who are difficult to deal with.  When we encounter  these people, we  can  choose to either get upset or  accept them.  Let’s look at  these three vignettes, and answer the question that follows:

Vignette #1

Paul Maxwell is a 60 year old  man who happens to be your father.  Paul has an interesting character trait.  He likes to flirt, and make advances on all of your friends.  (These women are in their 20’s) One of them has described his behavioral eloquently  as being “PaulMaxwelled”.  When Paul Maxwell is your dad you have several choices:

A) Arrange a hit on his life (not a great idea)

B) Kill him yourself(a worse idea)

C) Become terribly depressed, anxious, ashamed, with no self-esteem and feel further victimized by Paul Maxwell

D) Accept that Paul Maxwell is being Paul Maxwell and get therapy for yourself in order to feel better

Vignette 2

Jenny Malone is your new boss.  Jenny is the company hotshot brought in from another state.  She is replacing your best friend who has left the company.  As a employee of the company for the past 10 years, you have given them your blood, sweat and tears.  Jenny decides to change all the things in the department that have worked for the 10 years that you’ve been there.  After massive frustration in dealing with Jenny you decide to:

A)  Punch her in the face(not a great idea)

B) March into the Vice-President’s office, shouting expletives, and describing in full detail her late hour escapades with other employees of the company(not a great idea)

C) Leave the best job that you’ve had with the awareness that you  will never get a job this good again

D) Accept that Jenny Malone is being Jenny Malone and get therapy for yourself in order to  feel better

 Vignette Number 3

Bobby and Janey Duncun  have been married for 5 years.  They have a child, Bobby, Jr who is  6years old.  Bobby Sr. drinks every day.  Sometimes while drunk, he has gotten angry with Janey and called her choice words .  Janey has tried to get Bobby to stop drinking.  She’s thrown out the alcohol, yelled and screamed at him for drinking, negotiated deals with him so that he wouldn’t drink.  She is angry and frustrated and feels unloved. At this point Janey’s best strategy is to:

a)    Continue to nag, scold, beg, cajole, scream in order to get him to stop drinking

b)    Have an affair with very interested neighbor Billy Washington down the street

c)    Take little Bobby and move back home with her  alcoholic parents

d)    Accept that Bobby is being Bobby(while getting therapy and attending Alanon)

The obvious answers to our quiz is “D” in all of these situations. The thing we learn from all of this is that Manny Ramirez, Paul Maxwell, Jenny Malone and Bobby Duncun are starring as themselves– They do what they do in ALL situations.  Manny is just being Manny, Paul is just being Paul, Jenny is just being Jenny, and Bobby is being Bobby.

When we encounter these people our best option is to ACCEPT them and their behavior.  In order to do that we need something that will help us–the serenity prayer:

serenityIf we ACCEPT what we cannot change, which are all other people’s behavior, and change the things we can, which is our reactions to them, then we can have serenity.  3 sentences can give us all the change we need.  Use them regularly and you will feel better.

Remember change is possible.

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Thank you

You didn’t have to love me like you did
But you did, but you did.
And I thank you.
Issac Hayes

When I say “thank you” I mean it as it is intended. Thank you for helping me. We probably don’t say it enough. We don’t acknowledge those people who do the simple mundane tasks or even those who go out of their way to do more. For whatever reason, we have decided that thanking people isn’t all that important. We move on to the next thing that we are doing. For those who still have these words in their vocabulary, thank you for using them!

It’s good that we take the time to thank people. However, there are some people that we would never thank. These are people that we feel hurt, resentment and pain towards. These feelings are the venom that pervades our souls with blackness. We are much more likely to use some other two word greeting than the kind and gentle “thank you”. But what if I said “thank you” to this resented person? What if the “thank you” could actually help ME?

If we have venom towards an ex-partner, family member, boss etc, these feelings follow us everywhere. They invade our day, our night, and our sleep. We constantly bombard ourselves with these intense feelings. We can’t stop thinking about the damage that has been caused. In the worst of circumstances, we are engulfed when thinking about the upcoming family gathering, work meeting, sporting event. There is no way that we could possibly be in the same room as that person, let alone in close proximity. By constantly obsessing about this person, we are giving him/her tons of power. This person is “taking up rent free space in our heads”. We can do something different to make it better for us.

Doing something different implies taking a risk. The risk involves thanking the person for their help. For example, I have to ask my ex-partner to pick up the kids from swimming class. My automatic thoughts might be “I have to ask this person to do this; s/he should know the schedule and should be volunteering to help. I mean after all s/he did to me…..etc”. My healing and empowering new thoughts can be “I’ll ask him/her to pick up the kids”. When the ex-partner fulfills the request, all I have to do is say “thank you”. I don’t have to rant, rave, harangue, tell everybody about what a jerk -off my person is. All that is necessary is a thank you.

When we use our own power instead of a reaction to the past, or obsess in the voluminous rent free space zone, we get to have a new version of ourselves. The partner may or may not see the difference but we end up of free of agita, anxiety, rage, hurt and resentment. This healing “thank you” gives us the freedom to change, the freedom to be better, and most importantly, the freedom to be myself. Sly Stone of Sly and the Family Stone said it best “thank you for letting me be myself again”

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Fork in the Road

“Life is complex.
Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another…The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. ”
M. Scott Peck

Many years ago, before the gps was invented, I got directions to go to a family party.  The trip was going well, and we were right on time.  Unbeknownst to me, the road  that we were on was about to end (this part was not in the directions). We were faced with two choices–go left or go right.  We sat at the stop sign, trying to figure out the best option.  Ultimately, we turned right.  This was was in fact wrong and proceeded to drive off course.  After driving around for a while, we eventually righted our course and arrived at our destination.

 Each and every day, many of us arrive at that stop sign with a left or right turn option.  It looks like this:

 

Every day, we can decide to change or not to change.  We talk about it all the time ” I should go to the gym” , “I should get a new job” ,” I should lose weight”.  We “should” on ourselves but ultimately don’t do anything.  Change is hard.  I think the decision process looks like this:

Our “”change/no change” slide tells the story.  On one hand, it would be so much better for me to change–I’d feel better, but it’s scary and unknown.  On the “no change side”, it’s familiar,  but  as Henry Ford said “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got”.  “No change” keeps us stuck!  The hardest part about this “stuckness” is that I know intellectually that making any change is going to be better, but because I’ve projected way way down the path it looks very scary.  Staying right where I am usually wins out.

Let’s look at a concrete example of this.  It’s the new year, and I’ve put on a few pounds from the holidays.  It’s time to lose weight. Let’s look at our change/no change view:

 

The “change” side speaks loudly:The pants are getting tighter, I hate how I look in the mirror, I know it would be medically better to lose these pounds, but to do this I have to sacrifice.  Am I willing to sacrifice my comfort, my ability to be “comfortably numb”?  Do I really want to exercise and not eat what I want?  Can’t I just work around this by getting bigger pants or not ever look in the mirror?   Day after day, I argue with myself.  My head is like a giant seesaw going back and forth between change and no change options.

We can continue in this state of ambivalence for a long time.  It can go on and on and on until we make a decision to do something.  Sometimes change occurs just by taking any type of action.  In our weight loss example, the action may have little to do with food or exercise.  It may be a decision to read or not sit on the couch endlessly.  Small change leads to bigger change.  Bigger change ultimately leads to the changes that we want.

In addition to doing something,  making a commitment to change sets up some accountability.  In our weight loss example, joining a program (i.e. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystems, Over -Eaters Anonymous) allows us to “put our money where our mouth is”(literally) and commit to the opportunity for change.   Another way that commitment can work towards change is by telling people.Tell your friends, relatives, co-workers,  and social media universe about your plans for change(i.e. I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year). Ask them to check up on you about your change.  This accountability strategy can give you a little oomph towards your goal. We will definitely feel embarrassed if three months from now, my support people ask about weight loss, and there is no change.  Guilt and shame prevention is a good thing!    If we pay money and tell people about our changes, we’ve started to tilt that see-saw towards the change side.

We are now a technological society.  We have  a gps to help us to find our way when we are lost.  There is no electronic device that can change our default ambivalence settings.  We have to decide daily that change is better than no change.  Change is do- able.  Change is possible.  Make change happen.

 

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Too Much Information

Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane
Sting 1981

Have you seen these posts on your social media?
At home depot
At target
Eating at bagel shop
At bank
Showering

Did you recognize some of those posts as yours? Have you asked yourself why we need to tell people where we are, and what we are doing?
If celebrities posted like we do about where they are , this would be exciting– Scarlett Johansson is at the dry cleaners.- drop off or pick up?. Tom Hanks is at Cluck U Chicken—wondering what he ordered? Bill Wilson just went to the Denville AA meeting(I’d pay to see that since he died in 1971). I haven’t seen TMZ follow me to the dry cleaners—(shirts, pants an occasional sport jacket if you really wanted to know).
It seems that the social media phenomenon is creating a group of people who want to be the next reality stars– the next Duck Dynasty, the next Kardashians or worse the next Ice Road Truckers, or Moonshiners? These reality “stars” tells us that anybody can get on a television show in spite of how little talent they have. The dumbing and numbing of society!
We’ve even lowered our standards of fame—it used to be 15 minutes, now 15 seconds will suffice! 140 characters of twitter gold and the entire universe can know your immediate thoughts on ARod, the NSA, Snow, the NFL or Obamacare. But do we really care? And what’s the impact of all of this connection on our real interpersonal connections. If I’m wired to the universe do I miss out on right here right now, in the moment, living?
Sherry Turkle, a Harvard psychologist, is a prolific writer about social media and society. She conducted a Ted Talk entitled “Connected But Alone” in 2012. Her points in this talk are worth paying attention to:

It’s amazing to me that we are creating a society of non-interpersonal communicators who are happy to tell us about  all of their low intimacy behaviors. If we do not have personal, intimate conversations with others, then we lack depth as people. It’s a new year and time to make some changes happen, so the next time you want to tweet or Facebook or text someone, how about using some old school technology—TALK.

Happy New Year-

change is possible

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