Thoughtful Therapy

  Helping women find freedom and peace



Do You Need a New Doctor?

Posted on 7 February, 2017 at 8:00 Comments comments (8742)

We have all had experiences at the doctor where we felt disappointed: the time felt rushed, we didn't get all our questions answered, the doctor ran a bit late, etc. These issues are usually excusable, but there are some that deserve a deeper look. If any of the following issues resonate with you, you may have good reason to consider finding a new doctor.

Your doctor makes fun of you or belittles you. When you go to the doctor you should be treated with respect. If you feel your doctor is laughing at you (and you haven't made a joke) or is talking condescendingly to you, it may be time to find someone else to take care of your medical needs. If your doctor calls in other staff to look at you or your body in a way that means, "you've never seen anything like this!," that is extremely unprofessional and you should find a new doctor immediately. If your doctor says, "Ewwww!" about something on your body, it's time to move on. I'm not saying he or she would never be grossed out by anything, but it is unspeakably inappropriate for him or her to indicate this. You are not seeing your doctor in order to become a science experiment or to be treated like a freak show. You deserve, and should expect, respect.

Your doctor is offended when you want a second opinion or when you ask questions. A doctor who cannot tolerate this probably has a large and fragile ego, and is more interested in keeping it intact than in giving you quality care. A good doctor knows she doesn't have every answer, and also knows it is important to consult on cases. She would have no problem with answering any questions you have, finding answers for you if she doesn't know them, you getting a second (or third, or fourth) opinion, and might even suggest it herself. She is not insulted by her patients asking for more information because her primary concern is the health of those patients.

Your doctor insists you need expensive special products you can only purchase from him/her. I'm not saying all special products are bad. However, when a doctor recommends a product you can only buy from him, you absolutely must have it, and it is very expensive, it can be worth it to take a step back and evaluate the situation. The product may be exactly what you need. If so, it's okay to invest in it. It's also okay to take time to think about it and buy it at another time. Or, the product could be something you could easily find at the local drug store or do without. Pushing products (special vitamins, creams, cans of compressed air, etc) can be a red flag indicating your doctor has other priorities than your health and best interests.

Your doctor (or their staff) does not return your phone calls/emails. If you can't get in contact with your doctor to make an appointment or to find out the results of tests, that's a problem. We all get busy, but when repeated calls go unanswered or unreturned, it may be time to move on and find someone else. It doesn't have to be a personal thing, and you don't have to feel bad for going to a different provider. You are your own advocate, and if you aren't getting the care you need, it is up to you to make sure you do.

Your doctor minimizes your concerns. This is different than validating that you are worried, but giving you reassurance, citing specific examples of why you may not need to be as concerned as you currently are. If your doctor calls your concerns silly or stupid, and doesn't actually listen to them, or brushes them off, ie, "Oh, you're fine. That's nothing," you are allowed to say something about this. You are also allowed to see a different doctor. It is true that your anxiety may seem unfounded to your doctor (he or she has a depth of knowledge about medicine that the general public doesn't), but even so, you should expect to have your concerns heard.

I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No

Posted on 11 August, 2015 at 9:00 Comments comments (1777)

Remember the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma!? It's one of my favorites. Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie sings a song near the beginning of the musical called "I Can't Say No." While the song is really about saying no to kisses from boys, the first few lines could apply to quite a few of us is many other situations:

I'm just a girl who can't say no,

I'm in a terrible fix!

I always say, "come on, let's go!"

Just when I oughta say, "Nix!"

Does this describe you? Do you say yes when you know you should say no, just to keep the guilt from setting in? Do you frequently find yourself agreeing to some task or another, a volunteer opportunity, one more [carpool, bake sale, PTA meeting, fundraiser, etc], when what you really want to say is, "NO!"? Do you envy others who seem to be able to turn down one of these "opportunities" without feeling guilty? Do you worry about hurting someone's feelings by turning them down?

Good news! You, too, can set boundaries and say no without guilt! Just imagine: You agree to tasks you enjoy. You spend more time with your family. You still help others, but you do it when it works for you. You don't have to overschedule anymore.

Place a high value on your time and schedule it.

Your time is just as valuable as anyone else's. You are allowed to be in control of your schedule. Make a schedule of all the activities you participate in each day and each week. This includes anything you are involved in, such as lunch with a friend, carpool, meetings, date night, work, time with the kids, etc. This will let you see any pockets of time that may be available, as well as when you are overscheduled. Use this information as you consider whether or not to join in, commit to, or add on.

Remember that saying no is not personal.

You are setting appropriate boundaries when you turn down something you don't have time to do well. It's not a personal attack or slight to anyone else, and it doesn't have to do with anyone else. This is how to walk away without feeling guilty or worrying about hurting feelings. Don't let yourself take on the responsibility for how someone else feels or what someone else thinks you should do. That is about them, not you.

Don't give in to peer pressure.

Just because Debbie and Susie are helping doesn't mean you have to do it, too. If you think it sounds fun and you have time, great! Go for it! But if it's just one more thing to fit in between carting the kids to soccer practice and getting dinner on the table, maybe it's okay to sit this one out. There will always be a next time.

Let your no mean no.

When you agree to do something, commit, follow through, and do it. But when you say no, don't later give in and say yes. If you do this, people will not believe you when you turn them down. They will think they can coax you into a yes if they keep asking. Because it worked in the past. Be kind, but firm when you abstain.

Try the broken record technique.

If you find that you have difficulty getting others to accept your no, use the broken record technique. Come up with a phrase and repeat it until the other person stops asking. See example below.

Super Pushy Person: We really need another volunteer for this weekend's school fun fair! Can you help out?

You (already knowing the weekend is half booked with activities, and planning to use the other half to relax with the family): No, I can't help this time. We already have plans.

SPP: But it's only all day Saturday! Can't you come for at least a little while?

You: No, I can't help this time. We already have plans.

SPP: But we really need you!

You: No, I can't help this time. We already have plans.

Hopefully, by this point, SPP is getting it that you are not giving in. You can change your tone of voice as needed, from, say, wistful regret, to matter-of-fact, to kind and firm, but don't give in after already saying no.

Saying no when you need to can change your life. You can stop feeling guilty and being disappointed with yourself for not following through. You can take back control of your schedule. You can feel powerful making good decisions about your time.

How to Prepare to Leave

Posted on 14 July, 2015 at 8:00 Comments comments (7421)

Sometimes when you are in a relationship you know it is time to leave. The relationship may be over even though you are still in it. It may be time to go because of a variety of reasons:

You're tired of being cheated on.

You're done putting up with verbal or emotional abuse.

You don't want to be hit and pushed anymore.

You long to emotionally connect with someone.

When it's time to go, you may know it's time, but still feel trapped. How do you get out of it? What do you do to get ready to go? Is it really possible to leave, or will you have to stay in this place forever?

Yes, it really is possible to leave. You may feel trapped now, but you don't have to continue to feel this way. I will detail below a few ways to prepare. For a full description of what to do, how to prepare, and other information, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also visit their website at

Develop a Network of Supportive People. You need friends now, more than ever. You may feel isolated or paralyzed, but you must find the courage to act. Now is the time to join a club or a Bible study, meet your neighbors, reconnect with old friends, make current acqaintances into friends, reach out to your family. These people can support you as you prepare for your new life. You may be able to ask them for help in finding a job or a new place to live, or transportation to a shelter.

Save Money. One of the biggest concerns for many people is money. Of course there are worries about supporting yourself and your children, or whoever may be with you. Money may be a way that the person you are leaving controls you, but nonetheless, you must find a way to save up. Open a bank account in your own name. Create retirement funds if possible (Roth IRA is my recommendation, but speak to a financial advisor to verify what is best for you). You will need money to be out on your own.

Get a Job. This is, of course, a great way to make money. If you already have a job, this one may be taken care of. If it's been a while since you have worked outside the home, remind yourself of your skills. Reinforce to yourself that you have value and worth. You can do this. Look over your resume and update it, or create one from scratch based on your skills and any previous jobs or positions you have held. You can include volunteer work. One website I have used in creating my own resume is the Rockport Institute. This site also has other helpful career info about finding a career that is a best-fit for you.

Go Back To School. This is a sub-heading of getting a job. If you find you need to add to your skill set, check out the local community college or online courses to see what might be of help and of interest to you. Colleges often have career counselors who can help you figure out what you might like to do, and give you some guidance toward a particular field.

Figure Out Where You Will Go. This may be an area where your support network can help. Do you need to stay at a shelter for a while? Or is it safe to stay with a friend or family member? Maybe you are ready to rent an apartment. Whatever the case, pick this place out before you leave. Plan how you will get there, what route to take, if you will take yourself or if someone will pick you up. Figure out as much in advance as possible.

It may take some time to make your exit plan, but have courage that life can be better for you. You don't have to stay in a dead or abusive relationship. You deserve more. You deserve better.

Choices in Relationships: You Get to Decide

Posted on 28 April, 2015 at 9:00 Comments comments (7979)

From time to time couples have disagreements, or even fights. That's completely normal. Actually, it's the couples that say they never argue that are the most concerning to me. That likely means there are many things left unsaid that need to be discussed, potentially resulting in festering wounds that will appear at some point down the line, worse than they would have been if talked about when they first occurred. We all have pet peeves, and we all experience little annoyances from time to time. These things must be dealt with, though. You get to choose how. You either decide to bring it up and discuss it, or decide to let it go. But, remember to pick your battles. Not everything is worth making into a big discussion. Figure out what's important and what really isn't, and let go of the stuff that really isn't important.

Now, that said, there may be times when you and your partner are so far apart on an issue that it seems impossible to resolve it. This is, presumably, not something like how to load the dishwasher "correctly." This type of issue likely runs along the lines of how to manage your money, how to raise your children, or religious or political beliefs. Ideally, you have talked about these things before forming a partnership, but maybe it didn't come up at that time, or maybe viewpoints have changed since then. Whatever the case, these issues and others can be polarizing in a relationship.

So, what do you do? Do you just walk away? Do you put your all into trying to resolve things? Do you accept having different viewpoints and allow that to be okay? Yes. These are all options you can pick.

Walk Away. You are allowed to end a relationship because you have different points of view. Sometimes this is what people choose. They may decide that it is not worth it to try to work through the issue, or it may become apparent that it is not possible to work through it. This could be because neither part of the couple is willing to give an inch, or it could be that one person wants to work on it and the other does not. Before walking away, though, consider all that has been put into the relationship. Are you ready to put that aside and start over? Is it worth it? Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. You get to decide.

Resolve Things. You are allowed to put everything you've got into making the relationship better and trying to resolve the issue. Again, you have to decide if it's worth it to put the work in, and it is certainly most effective if both parties are willing to do this. It is difficult to do marriage counseling when one person is clearly not interested in staying. This is, of course, devastating for the one who wants to stay. However, if both people are working toward the same goal, much progress can be made. It's not necessarily easy to resolve things, but for those who feel strongly that they want to fulfill their commitment no matter what happens, this may be the way to go. You get to decide.

Accept Different Viewpoints. You are allowed to let different viewpoints coexist in the relationship. For some couples, they are able to hold conflicting or differing beliefs while staying together harmoniously. They each release imagined control over the other, which lessens the pressure of being responsible for someone else's views. They choose to let it be okay that they don't agree. They accept the differences instead of allowing them to drive a wedge into the relationship. Can you move past the need to control or to feel responsible for another's beliefs? Can you let go of embarrassment over disagreement on a serious issue? You get to decide.

You get to decide how to handle your relationship. What works for you and your partner may not work for another couple, and that is okay. Find what you can live with, and decide to live with it.