THERAPY &
IMPROVEMENT CENTER

 

SELF-DISCOVERY &
RELATIONSHIP RESOURCES

 
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DISARMING THE NARCISSIST

by Wendy Behari

Great book for beginners - especially those who come from a narcissistic family.  A typical narcissistic family is a strong fatherly figure ("I was X Y and Z") and a victimly mother figure ("Everything I did was for you").

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REINVENTING YOUR LIFE

by Jeffrey Young

Another great book for beginners - especially to help in becoming aware of our automatic emotional reactions and triggers. Auto-emotional reactions can happen at work (when someone criticizes us, or we feel left out or unappreciated), in relationships (when we feel insecure, or scared, or unhappy), in friendships (when we feel taken advantage of, or unloved), etc.

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MINDSIGHT

by Dr. Dan Siegel

Along with Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, my all-time favorite book, but a more dense read.  Dr. Siegel was a medical doctor before he became a psychiatrist.  The first half of this book is about the physics and chemistry of the brain. The second half of the book then shows how wellness topics and practices interplay with the physics and chemistry of the brain. It roots wellness into brain science in a way that resolves any lingering doubts about the importance of wellness.

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LOVE SENSE

by Sue Johnson

A must-read, on the basic but incredible concept that, rather than focusing on fixing problems in a relationship, focus on building a more secure relationship.

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UNDER SATURN'S SHADOW: THE WOUNDING & HEALING OF MEN

by James Hollis

A beautiful journey & expose into secrets of men's lives: such that men's lives are governed by role expectations as much as women's, and that fear underlies the power complex.  My favorite quote:  "All institutions end by serving their own survival and not the cause for which they were founded."

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FINDING MEANING IN THE SECOND HALF OF LIFE

by James Hollis

Along with Mindsight, current all-time favorite book.  A denser read, but filled with incredible insight, including some that helped me finally make friends with my anxiety.  

“Why, even when things are going well, do things feel not quite right?”

“Why does so much seem a disappointment, a betrayal, a bankruptcy of expectations?”

“Why do you believe that you have to hide so much, from others, from yourself?”

“Why does life seem like a script written elsewhere, and you barely consulted, if at all?”

“Why is the life you are loving so small for the soul’s desire?”

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MY INTERVIEW WITH THE WELLNESS ESQUIRE

The Wellness Esquire

"A few months into our relationship, my wife suggested that we go to couple’s counseling, as a proactive measure to stay on top of our relationship’s health.  We enrolled in a 6-month program; it’s been 6 years since, and we still go once a month, 2 hours at a time, without fail.  I always say that deciding to go to counseling was one of the top-3 best decisions I’ve made in life. 

Over the past 6 years, I (and we, in our relationship) have learned many, many lessons; but there are 6 or 7 major, transformative, life-changing lessons (epiphanies!) I have learned that I can’t even imagine living without.  Everything material thing I have is not worth even one of those lessons."


Full Interview available here: https://www.thewellnessesquire.com/blog/a-wellness-journey-with-ali-assareh

 
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PRE-SUASION:
A REVOLUTIONARY WAY TO INFLUENCE AND PERSUADE

by Robert Cialdini

One of the best books (or concepts) I've ever read.  If you ask people, "Would you like to donate to a great cause?" 14% may accept. But if you ask, before asking that question, "Do you consider yourself a kind person?" The acceptance rate increases exponentially.

 

REFLECTIONS

 

MY DAD, PART I
PERSPECTIVE

2 Dec 2020

Last year today, was my dad's final birthday. We knew he may not be with us much longer, so we threw him a big birthday bash.

I'd worked hard to organize the event, during a busy work & life stretch; managed invites, catering, playlist, decorations. At the party, I felt exhausted.

Then, in the middle of his party, with confetti on the ground, birthday cones adorning folks' heads, and decorations gently waving against the mellow AC breeze, my dad signaled me over. He asked, quietly, as he angled down his shoulder, to whisper into my ear, "Why are all these people here again?"

I realized in that moment that he hadn't even realized this was his birthday party; or had forgotten; already. I was heartbroken. The weight of my tiredness multiplied suddenly.

"Why did I even go through all this trouble," I thought. "He's not even here, with us, right now."

As I was reflecting on that moment this morning, I suddenly realized something. In that quiet moment, when he called me over, and angled down his shoulder, to whisper into my ear - all of that was because he didn't want to embarrass himself in front of everyone; and I was the closest person to him he could ask.

I felt ALL of that love in an instant; and the weight of my love for my dad multiplied suddenly.

MY DAD, PART II
FORGIVENESS

8 Dec 2020

When I knew my dad was going to pass, I asked my therapist to recommend books on forgiveness.

He did. I read them. They made sense; but I didn’t “get” it.

I sought & read articles & YouTube videos. They too made sense; but I still didn’t get it.

Then, one day, when my dad was essentially in a coma - gone - I had a rare moment alone with him in his hospital room. I was standing by the base of his bed; looking at him. Here he was; just a skinny man, in a gown; stripped of everything he ever owned, or ever was. Every one of us - everyone in the world - will look like that one day.

In that moment, I GOT IT. I forgave, not just my dad, but everyone in the world. I got forgiveness.

I’m not joking: I felt weight lifted off my shoulders. I literally stood up taller; longer; chest forward; head high.

I realized that the distance I always thought was between me and my dad, was just within me, this whole time. Once I removed it — I was not just closest to him I ever was; I was as close to him as I always wanted to be.

—————

I have gone through an incredible transformation in self-confidence this year. I have pondered why.

I think, the distance we feel to greatness, is perhaps similar: It was, and is, always, just a distance within us.

MEANING OF LIFE, TO ME

24 Oct 2020

31 days before he passed away from Leukemia in 2009, my brother, Hooman, wrote on his Facebook page: “It is a beautiful day in Berkeley. It rained for half an hour, now it is cloudy but a steady 60 degrees with birds a chirping and the tropics in the air. Gotta love this city.”  

The next day, surprised by this from a generally stoic person, my sister in law wrote: “Hooman... is that you??? birds chirping?? Beautiful day???” 

Hooman replied, “Yes baby it is me. But that was yesterday. Today there are no birds a chirping. it is bleak and foggy and not a peep from the neighbors. More or less a sad day.”


—————

To me, the entire meaning of life is in this exchange.

Van Gogh puts it this way: “Small emotions are the great captains of our lives.”

What are you feeling today?

Cherish it! Or let it go! Tomorrow will be a whole new day.

RELATIONSHIPS

12 Oct 2020

I have a longtime friend. We've been having hard times in our friendship lately, because we vehemently disagreed about a professional project we were collaborating on. We each felt, strongly, passionately, and genuinely, that our way was the right way.

We got entrenched in our positions; and it was difficult, almost impossible, to see a way out, for months.

Starting a couple days ago, something happened and we just randomly re-started talking about our friendship. Forgot about the project. Reminisced about life experiences, and specifically about personal tragedies we both have experienced, and how we grew out of them. We just talked!

Suddenly, magically, and re-armed with that perspective - our professional, entrenched problems started falling way, and we saw a path forward that we both liked.

Dr. Sue Johnson, in her excellent book, Love Sense, suggests that, to solve problems in a relationships, we should focus not on the problems, but on strengthening the underlying bonds. Often, problems are signs of strained bonds (and not the surface things they seem to be "about").

If you are having problems with a loved one, a friend, a colleague - maybe try strengthening your underlying bond as a potential way forward.

I love you, friend!

CRITICISM

Dec 2020

Criticisms are criticism only if we bring our egos to the table.

Without that, they are either opportunities for growth (if they are honest or well-intentioned), or opportunities for kindness and pity (if they are dishonest or malicious).

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POETRY & ART

Poets, like Artists, see Being

 

Behind an abandoned wheel,
someone,
something,
had written,
“I looked, it wasn't there!”
"Don't look! It's not there!"

This prophecy of sadness,
Was repeated in me thousands of times,
And my eyes cried for this lostness

Like a friend, I sat it next to me
I brought it into conversations:
- Are you searching for the water of life?
For the answer to this darkness?
Wishing for forgiveness? Justice?
Love?
A friend? ...

We looked too,
So did the Sheikh with his lantern,
Are you, like him, searching too?

If you are tired, stay. And if you want to, know:
Our pleasure in universe, is in the search itself.
Searching is the entire meaning of life.
Never is,
"Don't look! It's not there"
Worthy of a human....

در پشت چارچرخه ای فرسوده

کسی خطی نوشته بود:

" من گشته ام، نبود!

                                تو دیگر نگرد،

                                                 نیست! "

این آیه ملال

                در من هزار مرتبه تکرار گشت و گشت

چشمم برای این همه سرگشتگی گریست...

چون دوست در برابر خود می نشاندمش

تا عرصه بگوی و مگوی می کشاندمش

در جستجوی آبی حیات؟

در بیکران این ظلمات آیا؟

در آرزوی رحم؟ عدالت؟

دنبال عشق؟

دوست؟

...

ما نیز گشته ایم!

و آن شیخ نیز با چراغ همی گشت...

آیا تو نیز چون او " انسانت آرزوست؟ "

گر خسته ای بمان و گر خواستی بدان

ما را تمام لذت هستی به جستجوست

پویندگی تمامی معنای زندگیست

هرگز

                " نگرد، نیست "

                                                سزاوار مرد نیست!

                                               

                                                                " فریدون مشیری "

 

QUOTES & INSIGHTS

 

"I never lose.  I either win or learn."

- Nelson Mandela

"Small emotions are the great captains of our lives."

- Van Gogh

"Yesterday, I was clever and wanted to change the world.  Today, I am wise and want to change myself."

- Inspired by Rumi

"You're not a drop in the ocean.  You're the entire ocean in a drop."

- Inspired by Rumi

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.”

- Mark Twain

“People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”

- Timothy Ferriss

"Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly too."

- Paul Bracken

"I have had the growing realization over the past few years that the problem of [human] knowledge is not to oppose and to demolish opposing views, but to include them in a larger theoretical structure."

- Ernest Becker

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

- Helen Keller

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer.”

- Opening lines of Albert Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus

"You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can't count the apples in a seed."

Karen Jensen

“Want is a growing giant whom the coat of Have was never large enough to cover.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow..."

Kahlil Gibran

"There is always light.
If only we are brave enough to see it.

If only we are brave enough to be it." 

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, Pres. Biden’s Inauguration

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."

- Albert Einstein

“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”

Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.

“Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

- Ernest Hemingway

“What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, 'This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!' Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, 'Never have I heard anything more divine'?”

- Nietzsche

"A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”

- Goethe

"All institutions end by serving their own survival and not the cause for which they were founded."

- James Hollis

"No prisons are more confining than those we know not we are in."

- Unknown (but mistakenly ascribed to Shakespeare)

"If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking."

- Benjamin Franklin

"Change is inevitable.  Transformation is not."

- Unknown

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

- Yogi Berra

"Be a good person, but don't waste time to prove it."

- Unknown