Hi All:

My two books “Inner Blocks to Losing Weight” and “Your Self-Sabotaging Bully” will be showcased in the “New Title Showcase” section on May 29 through May 31, 2014 at the:

Book Expo Americo


New York City

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Take The Weight Off Your Shoulders

Often times in my work, a patient will say something that will provide an interesting and potential important insight not just for the patient themselves, but also for myself as the therapist. A great example of this occurred yesterday in my office.  In a nutshell, my patient Alyssa and I were discussing the progress she has made regarding addressing and resolving her psychological blocks which have kept her repeatedly sabotaging her efforts to lose weight.  As Alyssa then put it, “you know what Doc? Now that I feel like I’ve got my blocks more under control, I also feel like I’ve had a psychological weight lifted off my shoulders.  And because of that, i’m definitely more confident that I will get my ACTUAL weight off–and not just off my shoulders, but off of the rest of my body as well!”  Couldn’t have said it better myself Alyssa!

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Anesthesia, Intoxication, And The Inner Bully

Whether sabotaging your attempts to lose weight, or your job performance, or some important personal relationship in your life, you know by know that your inner bully is first on the “most wanted list” of culprits behind your self-sabotage.   In the best of all possible inner worlds, you can teach yourself to slowly but surely stand up to your inner bully, in part by using self-help techniques like mindful mantra work, building up core self-worth through daily self-crediting, setting and reaching important goals, exercising as much courage as possible in the face of anxiety, and using guilt-reduction techniques like personal penance and permission work.  All of these and related strategies definitely can be beneficial in your bully-managing quest to cut down on your self-sabotage.  A big challenge here though is that like most big challenges in life, you need to be as patient as possible, because the benefit you will get from using these strategies is likely to be gradual – in other words, it only builds slowly but surely.

Which can be where substance use can enter the mix.   Meaning: well, think about it.  Suppose you are under the influence of a desired substance–be it alcohol, prescription drug used recreationally, recreation drugs like pot and cocaine, or great food you eating at a long great meal.  In this intoxicated state, you are likely to feel pretty darn good, whether the feeling reflects giddiness, excitement, pleasure on the one hand, or calmness, mellowness, and peacefulness on the other hand.  Bringing your inner bully back into focus, one of the ways you can think of these very enjoyable intoxicated states is that while in them, you are in a sense being “anesthetized” from feeling any of the inner-bully-triggered emotional pain you may be feeling (to at least some degree anyway) when you are not in such a state.   So there in that state you can stay–and understandably WANT to stay–for the few hours on the average that it typically lasts.  And in that anesthetized state of intoxicating “numbness,” one of the subtle, highly desirable benefits you are likely to experience is: a whole lot less self-judgment and self-criticism than when you are not in that state!  So no wonder you can become more excited/giddy/pleasure-filled on the one hand or more calm/mellow/ peace-filled on the other hand.  Because you can look at it this way: when you’re in a state of intoxication, guess who also apparently becomes intoxicated? Yep, that’s right: your inner bully!  And as long is it too remains intoxicated, it loses its power over you as far as all your usual negative self-judgment and self-doubt when you are in a non-intoxicated–I.e., sober –state.

Take this altogether, and it becomes easier to understand why people with a truly troubling inner bully can love the “quick fix” that substance use can provide as a temporary anesthetizing relief from the bully’s.


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“Direct Hitters,” ” Sneak Attackers” and the Inner Bully

The way I look at, there actually are two different categories of bullies.  The more obvious category I’ll call “direct hitters,” while the other more subtle category are “sneak attackers.”  “Direct hitters” are bullies who hit their victims either physically or verbally or both.  Physical direct hitting includes pushing, slapping, and punching.  Verbal direct hitting on the other hand involves statements made by a parent, other authority figure, or peer that are direct put-downs and belittling of the person on the receiving end of these communications, e.g., “you’re stupid!” ” you’re ugly!” or “you’ll never amount to anything!”  I call verbal direct hits like these psychological “sucker punches to the emotional gut!”

      When most people think of the term “bully,” I think it’s safe to say they think of bullies as physical and/or verbal direct hitters. Let me propose however a second category of bullies, the category I call “sneak attackers.”   When a direct hitting bully hits someone, it is unmistakable and undeniable that he/she intends to hurt the recipient of the bullying.  In contrast, what I’m calling “sneak attacker” bullies you can assume do not directly intend to the recipient.  Unfortunately, the psychological/emotional hurt that a sneak attacking bully can nonetheless cause is very real–every bit as real in fact as the hurt a direct hitting bully can cause.  What are examples of sneak-attack bullying?  To me, there are five altogether: 1) guilt-tripping; 2) negative comparisons; 3) neglect; 4) abandonment; and 5) hypocrisy.   I want to underscore though that types of sneak attacking communications only create problems for the recipient if they represent a PATTERN of communicating, and not just single isolated incidents.  Let’s start with GUILT-TRIPPING.  If I were to sum up the painful feeling that a pattern of guilt-tripping can trigger in the recipient, it’s the feeling of having DISAPPOINTED the guilt-tripper.   Which in turn means that if the guilt-tripper is someone very important to the recipient, then you can “take it to the bank” that the recipient is going to feel a whole lot of guilt.  Guilt which over time can potentially cost the recipient a good degree of their self-worth, not to mention a sense of being unwanted and/or unloved by the guilt-tripper.

     The next category of sneak-attacking bullying is NEGATIVE CONPARISONS.   Negative comparisons involve a significant figure in the recipient’s life frequently comparing the recipient to either their siblings, other relatives, or friends, in which the essence of the comparison is how the recipient falls behind the person of comparison.  The focus of the comparisons can range from intelligence, to physical appearance, to personality, to academic or occupational accomplishment.   All that matters in terms of the negative psychological/emotional impact on the recipient of these negative comparisons is that the message behind the comparison boils down to (in so many words) “I think you are inferior to so and so, and I don’t like it because it embarrasses ME!”   Talk about a sneak-attacking psychological sucker punch!

      Then there’s a pattern of NEGLECT as sneak-attack bullying.  By neglect I do not mean total neglect of the recipient; that’s abandonment.  Instead, think of neglect as providing the recipient with an insufficient amount of needed affection and/or guidance and/or attention.  Much more than material neglect, it is these three types of neglect that can leave the recipient with core questions regarding, once again, their overall self-worth and lovableness.

      Next is ABANDONMENT.   This one’s pretty black and white: the abandoning bully picks up and leaves the recipient–be it for months, if not years, if not permanently.  Abandonment is the extreme of neglect. So unless someone comes along at some point in the recipient’s life–e.g., a step-parent or a mentor–to provide the recipient with a whole lot of void – filling affection/guidance/attention, the recipient will likely go through life with basically the same core psychological/emotional self-doubts as being neglected.

       Last but not least is HYPOCRISY.   Simply stated, hypocrisy is the essence of the message “do as I say, not as I do! ”  And then figure that this statement comes with a corollary, which basically says “and by the way, you are not allowed to challenge that message!”  Here’s two examples of hypocritical communications.  One: a parent demands that their child always keep their anger under control; meanwhile, the parent often enough displays a bad temper.  Two: a boss tells an employee they are expected to always work their tail off, including putting in a lot of overtime; meanwhile, the boss often enough leaves work early and delegates a good amount of work they should be doing themselves onto their employees.  Overall, the key here is that a recipient may see through the hypocrisy being presented to them, yet feel they may end up in the hypocrite’s dog-house for ever attempting to “expose” their hypocritical behavior.  Hence they squelch that truth–at the expense of feeling a good deal of  ongoing agitation and churning inside over the unfairness of this pattern of communicating to the recipient.  Oh, and as a little postscript, the opposite of the hypocritical message “do as I say not as I do!” Is when a parent or other authority figure role-models the much more psychologically healthy message “do as I say and as I DO!”

    So there you have it: two different categories of bullies.  As I said above, the first category – direct hitters – intentionally hurt people, whereas the other category – sneak attackers – really do not intend to hurt the recipient.  Unfortunately though, the recipient is psychologically/emotionally hurt anyway–especially, again, if the sneak attacking type of bullying communications are presented as an ongoing pattern of communication, and not just on occasion here and there. Either way though, you have to assume that both direct hitting bullying and sneak attacking bullying give the INNER bully plenty of ammunition in its quest to to make you feel you are “never good enough” as a person–in the eyes of the bully, and likely in most peoples eyes in general!


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How the approach/avoidance anxiety conflict keeps you from losing weight- Example Two

In my blog titled “How Anxiety can Lead to Weight Gain” I explained what is the approach/avoidance conflict. Here I give a human example regarding the approach/avoidance conflict and an individual’s weight gain.

Dave’s dream was to become a lawyer. His overall grade point average was excellent but he struggled with standardized entrance exams which led to his rejections by law schools. man taking testDave internalized the rejections. He lost much of his self-confidence even while going through college with an additional 55 pounds. Dave began to blame his self-defined failures on his weight. He got a safe job at the government even though he had dreams of becoming a lawyer. It was difficult to give up his desk job, especially because it protected him from having to interact with strangers, a possibility that made Dave very anxious.

Dave’s friend changed his career and challenged Dave to try to attend law school at night. Unfortunately Dave could not find the courage to make such a decision. Dave’s “safe” job meant he didn’t have to deal with the public to avoid feeling self-conscious about his weight. Dave went through a tug-of-war inside, he would feel better about himself if he lost the weight and then he would be more comfortable dealing with public appearances which was required of him becoming a lawyer. On the other hand, Dave knew if he lost the weight he would no longer have an excuse to avoid studying for and taking the law school entrance exams. Dave stayed overweight and never applied to law school. Dave lived with regret because he had allowed his Inner Bully to use his anxiety block as a way to avoid making the career move that could have changed his life.


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How the approach/avoidance anxiety conflict keeps you from losing weight- Example One

Two blogs ago, I explained what is the approach/avoidance conflict. Here I give a human example regarding the conflict and an individual’s weight gain.

Dara was quite insecure about the prospect of a marital separation with Jerry, thus ending up living her life alone. On top of this she found herself strongly attracted to Ron, a co-worker. Each time she found herself daydreaming about Ron she came to an abrupt stop when she reminded herself of those forty extra pounds on her body. Shedding those extra pounds had become a double-edged sword. On one hand she would become more attracted to men like Ron giving her self-esteem but on the other hand she would devastate Jerry if he discovered that she was having an affair jeopardizing her marriage which she had great anxiety about. Dara’s response to this was to continue to sabotage her efforts to lose weight. Dara became very anxious inside about being unable to control her impulses to have an affair, about the prospect of hurting Jerry, and about the prospect of being on her own if out of the marriage. As a result of these different anxieties, Dara ended up making certain she would remain undesirable to other men by remaining overweight!

To address anxiety blocks requires “courage.” If Dara had the courage to go to a marriage counselor than she could have resolved her problems. Dara’s courage and resilience would have helped her mange her guilt she had about leaving Jerry, recognizing that Jerry had many options for support from family ,friends or therapists. Looking forward to her new fulfilled life Dara could better lose weight keeping her inner bully and anxiety block from coming into the picture.


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Your Inner Bully And The Word “Deserve”

“You don’t deserve to be happy and get what you want in life!”

“Whenever you do something important to you that involves you ending up messing or screwing it up, you deserve some kind of price to pay for it–in other words, a punishment!”

punishmentOnly someone pretty darn mean and nasty would be likely to say belittling words like these to someone, right?  Well, from my perspective, you do in fact have someone you know well who is perfectly capable of saying these kinds of mean and nasty things to you.  The name of that “someone?” No surprise coming I assume here: your inner bully!  And where does your inner bully get this mean and nasty judgmentalness of you from?  It gets it from any and every significant mistake you make in which you end up feeling that you are, once again, beating up on yourself and being your own worst enemy!  It could be on the job, or in school, or in important relationships in your life of any type.  All that matters to your bully is to quite convincingly make you believe that if you really messed up–I.e., self-sabotaged–in any of these three major areas in your life, then the two statements listed above automatically apply to you.  And then let’s add to the mix a third message from the inner bully, which basically says: “oh, and by the way, I say you have no right to challenge either of those two messages!”  Quite the psychologically harmful communicational “triple whammy” being imposed on you by your inner bully, isn’t it?

So what can you do about being on the receiving end–much less the frequent receiving end–of this communicational/judgmental “triple whammy” coming from your inner bully?  The main strategy you need to use is to slowly but surely come to convince yourself that you DO deserve to get what you want in life and be happy, and DON’T deserve to pay some kind of punitive price when you mess up something important in your own eyes.   And how do you do that?  Mainly I propose by working as hard as you can, in any context in your life in which you feel you have messed up, to MAKE UP for your bad mistakes by doing whatever it takes to learn from the experience, make the right decisions next time, and follow through with those right decisions as consistently as you can.   One quick example. Let’s suppose your significant other broke up with you because they found out you cheated on them. As far as your inner bully is concerned, you have handed it a self-sabotaging gift on a silver platter – meaning: you have given it a golden opportunity to make you feel terrible enough (assuming you have some real conscience) to end up believing you really don’t deserve to be happy and get what you want in your significant love relationships, and that you do deserve to be punished–especially by being rejected!  So to counter the inner bully’s “double whammy,” you will need to work as hard as you can and take the time to either make extensive amends to the person you have hurt (assuming you are even given that opportunity of course), or make an unwavering commitment to yourself that you will never ever again cheat–and in the process deeply hurt someone you say you care about.   And the more you keep that commitment in any and every future relationship in your life, chances are the more at some point your inner bully will not be able to prevent you from saying–and meaning–words like “wait a minute: now that I’ve worked as hard as I have (and plan to continue to work as hard as I can) to permanently cease and desist cheating on anyone, I feel I now have the right to believe I DO deserve to get what I want and be happy in a relationship in my life, and not be so punitive of myself in the process!”

Oh, and a little postscript here.  In general, and regardless of the life context involved, there are 7 things you can do to increase your belief in your deserving to get what good things you want in your life, and not to beat up on yourself when you make any big mistakes.  The 7 things are: be courageous, work hard and make the effort, maintain emotional self-control and dignity, exercise self-discipline (without going overboard), meet your short-term and long-term goals, show acts of giving and kindness to others, and–last but certainly not least–have some fun and do some things that you would define for yourself as creative.. Do these 7 things–not every day maybe, but as often as you can–and you are guaranteed to earn some great counter-ammunition to use to stand up to your inner bully.  It’s called SELF-RESPECT–the best ingredient you can have in the mix of your becoming confident about what good things you deserve and what self-condemnation you don’t deserve in your life!

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