Peter Pearson


Holidays are filled with all kinds of repeating stresses.

Many people dread spending time with family over a holiday. Relatives are thrown together whether they like it or not, often for repeated stories, complaints and arguments.

Are you ready to tackle Aunt Martha’s searing comments about your weight?

First, recall Sisyphus from Greek mythology. He was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, getting close to the top only to see it roll down again.

Maybe that’s how you currently approach those holiday conversations, for example, when Aunt Martha says, “So sweetie, I understand Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers have new programs especially designed for those holiday temptations.”

If you choose to follow in the steps of Sisyphus, you will try to change how Aunt Martha thinks about your size. You start with data showing the limitations of these programs.

That doesn’t quiet her. So next you tell Aunt Martha that you are working at accepting and loving yourself the way you are. You ignore aunt Martha’s plastic smile and keep pushing the boulder up the mountain. You think you can stop Aunt Martha from setting your goals – for your life.

“Good luck,” says Sisyphus.

What is your escape hatch? You won’t need therapy for this one.

You can do something Sisyphus could not. Stop pushing that wretched boulder up the mountain. In other words, stop believing you can quiet aunt Martha’s criticisms. Instead, you can diplomatically redirect Aunt Martha by saying, “You bet, holidays are filled with all kinds of surprises. What are your favorite holidays?”

With that simple statement and question, you stop pushing that rock up the mountain. You will be controlling the direction of the conversation. You are using the tools of a skilled diplomat. You have finessed the criticism.

Then exhale. There is even a slight possibility you could have a pleasant brief conversation with her.

And get another appetizer.

 

In the next blog in the series I help you better set your expectations for all of the ups and downs that come with the holidays. Then I share a great process to use for dividing chores to get ready for the holidays. And finally, I give you a ‘brain hack' to tackle a few other possible stressors that might come your way.

About 

Peter Pearson, Ph.D., Relationship & Teamwork Expert for Entrepreneur Couples

Pete has been training and coaching couples to become a strong team since 1984 when he co-founded The Couples Institute with his psychologist wife, Ellyn Bader.

Their popular book, “Tell Me No Lies,” is about being honest with compassion and growing stronger as a couple.

Pete has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including “The Today Show,” "Good Morning America,” and "CBS Early Morning News,” and quoted in major publications including “The New York Times,” “Oprah Magazine,” “Redbook,” “Cosmopolitan,” and “Business Insider.”


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A Glossary of Terms that are sometimes Confusing

Couples Therapy is a counseling procedure that seeks to improve the adjustment of two people who have created an interdependent relationship. There are no standard procedures to help two people improve their adjustments to each other. Generally, a more experienced therapist will offer more perspectives and tools to a couple. Length of treatment will depend on severity of problems, motivation and skills of the therapist. A couple can be dating, living together, married or separating and may be gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

Marriage Therapy is a term often used interchangeably with marriage counseling. The term marriage implies two people have created a union sanctioned by a government or religious institution. The methods used in marriage counseling, marriage therapy and couples therapy are interchangeable and depend more on the specific challenges of each unique couple.

Psychotherapy is one or more processes to help improve psychological and emotional functioning. Examples are psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, Rational-Emotive therapy, or group therapy. Many forms of psychotherapy are blends of different approaches. For example, newer forms of psychotherapy called energy psychology draw upon recent advances in brain and neuroscience. These approaches often build on cognitive behavioral methods.

Clinical Psychologist. After graduating from college, it usually takes about five years of graduate school to get a Ph.D. in Psycholgy. It then requires an additional two years of supervision and passing a written (and often) an oral exam. There are a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medications (with additional training) but that is uncommon.

Psychiatrist. After graduation from medical school, there is a generally a 4-year psychiatric residency. After the completion of this training, psychiatrists must pass an exam issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to obtain certification and legally practice in the field. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications.

Clinical Social Worker. This profession usually requires two years of study after obtaining an undergraduate degree. While specific licensure requirements vary by state, most require clinical social workers to obtain 3,000 hours or 2 years of supervised clinical experience, after obtaining a Masters degree. Social workers can also specialize in diverse fields such as human services management, social welfare analysis, community organizing, social and community development, and social and political research.

Marriage and Family Therapist. Obtaining this license requires a Masters degree which takes approximately two years of post graduate study. The license also requires 3000 hours of supervised work and passing written exams.

The Couples Institute. We have assembled a group of top notch therapists at The Couples Institute. Whatever marriage help or marriage advice you are looking for, we are here to serve you. While most other therapists see only a few couples a week, we specialize in marriage and couples relationships, working to develop and bring you the most current and effective approaches to couples therapy. For more information about couples therapy or marriage counseling, see our couples therapy section.