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On not joining the club

Groucho Marx 040932There’s a common theme for lots of people who come to counseling and that theme is one I like to call The Groucho Marx Syndrome. This is named after Marx’s (perhaps apocryphal) response to a club that invited him to join their ranks:

I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.

Many of my clients do not want the kinds of partners who would have them as partners or the type of friends who would have them as friends.

They think like this:

  • If people like this sweater, they must have bad taste because I do not have good taste in clothes.
  • If people hire me for a job, they must not be thinking because people who are thinking would not hire me for a job.
  • If people invite me for tea, I must have them fooled because they seem like nice people and nice people would not have someone like me over for tea.

And so on and so on.

It feels scary to think, “I do have good taste and this is a great looking sweater. I do deserve this job because I’m good at what I do. Nice people invite me for tea because I am lovely.” What will happen when they find out the truth? What if we’re imposters? What if we’re just fooling or our sweater-picking skills are a one-time fluke?

But what if it’s not? What if you really are a lovely person with good taste and talent?

I mean, stranger things have happened.

The first step in overcoming Groucho Marx Syndrome is admitting that you’ve got it. The next step is recognizing when you’re succumbing to Groucho Marx Syndrome and confronting it. An invitation to the club doesn’t mean that you are lousy or that the club is lousy; try believing you’re getting invited because you deserve the invitation. Just try it for ten minutes and see if you can stand it and then try it for an hour and then try it for a whole day. See if you can make it a habit.

But if you can’t, if it’s too scary, really sit with that scariness and figure out where it’s coming from. Where did you get the message that you’re not good enough? Couldn’t it be that the long ago person who told you that particular story had the story wrong? Because now, right now, you can rewrite it. You get to tell a new story and this time, you get to tell one that’s really really good to you.

Now registering for Parenting for Attunement, a class that helps you become the parent that your child needs and that you are meant to be. Learn more by clicking here.

You’re doing a fine job

This Cocteau Twins song came up on my iTunes rotation the other day and for the first time I caught the lyrics. I thought, “Hey! This makes a terrific Therapeutic Moment!” So I’m sharing it with you. Lyrics are below the (fan-made) video.

Lyrics:

Ooh, you have, ooh, you have
Ooh, you have, ooh, you have

How do I feel about myself?
I try, I am resourceful, I contribute
I belong when I contribute

I don’t have to be perfect
I’m accepting myself as I really am
I’m feeling love for my successes

(Thank you for showing me respect)
I think, yes
(The foundation of my self respect)
I’m doing a fine job

I think, yes, I’m doing a fine job
I’m accepting myself as I really am
I’m feeling love for my successes

(Thank you for showing me respect)
I think, yes
(The foundation of my self-respect)
I’m doing a fine job
(Thank you for your encouragement)
I think, yes
(For my efforts and improvements)
I’m doing a fine job

Ooh, you have, ooh, you have
Ooh, you have, ooh, you have
Ooh, you have, ooh, you have
Ooh, you have, ooh, you have

I think, yes, I’m doing a fine job

(Thank you for showing me respect)
I think, yes
(The foundation of my self-respect)
I’m doing a fine job
(Thank you for your encouragement)
I think, yes
(For my efforts and improvements)
I’m doing a fine job

Shrinking Women

The Therapeutic Moment today is a tough one and there is so much going on in this poem: Siblings and how our experiences in our families can be very different; how we see what our parents do more than we hear what they say; the parental legacy of dieting. It’s a nice piece of work and there are lots of ways to read it.

What makes something better is connection

It’s so easy to push hurting people away because we don’t know how to respond to the sadness. This short animation does a great job of showing how being with someone in their sadness can be more effective than trying to buck someone up.

If you’re a parent, I invite you to watch this and imagine the sad fox is your child. How can you be more like the bear and less like the goat? We parents, we’re awfully good at “at least”-ing.

Thank you to commenter Louise Allana for the heads up!

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