Dan Knoepfler, MC, LMHC
Individual, group, and family therapy
Thoughts for the Day
Links to the archives of previous months are at the bottom of the page.

One of my other favorite DBT skills is "effectiveness".   Effectiveness minimizes the importance of who is right and who is wrong, and instead focuses on the objective and how to increase the chances of getting more of what you want.   If you stay focused on "I'm right, they're wrong" you will be less focused and effective in getting what you are hoping for.   If you take blaming and accusations out of the equation, and focus on problem solving it tends to get you more of what you want and less of what you don't.  That doesn't mean you have to agree with or like what is going on, but in my case, getting my food delivered and eating dinner was more important than right and wrong in the end.

When we teach DBT skills at the office, one of the main points driven home over and over again is to fact check before assuming.   The example I cited below is a great example of this.  When I assumed both parties had the same information, there was no other conclusion I could come to than someone was lying.  When asking each person what their perspective was, it was clear that both parties had incomplete information, and their assumptions regarding the missing information was different, leading to he misunderstanding.  Granted they didn't fact check enough, but that is different than overtly lying.  

While on vacation, a food delivery service appeared to have messed up.  There was a point when it appeared that either the hotel lobby staff was lying or the food delivery service was regarding the attempted delivery.   Funny thing happened.   The reality in the end was that it was a miscommunication rather than a matter of someone lying.  Both were correct with the limited information they had but with their limited info they didn't have a complete picture and know what to do.   Sometimes things appear to just be "semantics" regarding words.  But in this case the actual words that had been spoken changed things from someone appearing to be a liar to it being a colossal misunderstanding. 

I recently read an article shared by a colleague regarding the role of grandmothers, and in particular maternal grandmothers regarding the health and well being of grandchildren.    One argument is that maternal grandmothers actually have a genetic interest in their grandchildren surviving and thriving to keep the family line alive.  Genetically they have more vested than paternal grandmothers do because of the whole XX and XY chromosome thing and what they contribute to the next generations.   This article approached this from a nature perspective.   From a nurture perspective, my sense is both maternal and paternal grandparents add a lot to their grandkids' lives when they are involved.  Children need to be loved and supported to grow up secure in themselves and their worth.  Grandparents are a key aspect to this.

As much as I have enjoyed my vacation, there were a lot of stressors in my life during this time that finally have settled down. Self care is super important.   I spent a lot of time reading books and seeing movies, in addition to going to live music shows.  My guilty pleasure is James Patterson novels when it comes to reading.  I struggle with movies in the theater because I get motion sickness easily, and scenes that involve both the camera and subjects moving at the same time are tough for me to watch on a large screen.  And it seems that is a trend in the way films are shot currently.  But I can just close my eyes if there is too much movement.   The last hotel we stayed at had a western exposure, so we got to watch the sun set many nights, when it wasn't raining, which is always relaxing.

This week I also saw Ford vs. Ferrari.   It would not normally be a movie I would go and see at all.  But the creators of this movie made it accessible to an audience broader than "gearheads".  The issues of fighting for something, loyalty, betrayal, persisting, compromising and sharing are all themes that are highlighted.  I have to say I was surprised how much I liked this movie.

Last night a friend and I saw "Queen and Slim" in Oakland.   We ended up being the only white people in the theater.  I am tempted to go see it in the suburbs when I get home to see how different the audience might react.  What I will say about the experience last night is that I haven't heard people openly cry at a movie in a long long time like I did last night.   I was reading a review of the movie in the NY Times that talked about art being created in the era of social media and that the fear of an on-line backlash may inhibit people from taking creative risks.  I appreciate that the people who made this movie took risks and that Universal allowed them to put out a movie with those scenes.  There inevitably will be some comparisons to Thelma and Louise, which the writer in the NYT brought up.   I remember the conversations that resulted from people seeing Thelma and Louise when it first came out and how it seemed so risky to make that movie.  But what these movies in part are trying to do is to bring you into the characters experience enough to have (pseudo) empathy for people you might not otherwise think twice about.

Another rainy day in northern California.  It reminds me of home. I do like the rain, but was hoping it would be a little less wet.

Being in Berkeley reminds of the first time I was ever here for 3 Grateful Dead shows in the early 1980s at the Greek Theater.  I was with someone on crutches  at the time which meant we entered the venue through the disabled entrance which was also part of the backstage area.   We ran into Jerry in passing and I got to say "Hi" to him.  On the drive back to Portland we were refused service in Grant's Pass for being "hippies."    What fun memories a trip to Berkeley has triggered. 

For the first time in my life I paid for a drink out of a vending machine with a credit card.  I swore I would never do it.  But I was so thirsty and it wouldn't accept cash.   So I swiped it.   The card that is, not the drink out of the vending machine.

Monday on vacation doesn't feel like a Monday.  We are debating whether to go see Snoop tonight at the Fillmore.  I have seen him a couple times already.  Warren G. is opening for him.   I like Warren G. in some ways better than Snoop.

World AIDS day is today.  Memories of friends and colleagues who are no longer with us because of AIDS come to mind every year.   So much has changed since the early days when an HIV infection would turn into AIDS and lead to death.  Now people can live for years with HIV, and even have no viral load if on medication.   

End of the month again.  Flying to northern California to vacation is so easy.  And there is so much to do.   We're staying in the east bay area.   We were hoping to take the ferry across the bay, but with the weather looking somewhat wet and dismal, we may just drive into the city.

A jazz icon Pharaoh Sanders is playing in Oakland tonight.   We are going to both shows at Yoshi's, which is a small jazz club.   He injured himself last year, and I was wondering whether he would do any more shows.   It'll be interesting to see how he is doing when we see him later tonight.

Thanksgiving spent traveling to California.    It went very smoothly.  Easy getting to the airport, easy flight, easy check in at the hotel.  We were even able to get food tonight through a food delivery service.   Wow!   

The local food coop opened a store in the city where I work.   They have a bunch of single person restroom stalls with their own doors.    I like that it removes the issue of gender from the use of bathrooms altogether.  But what I like even more is that the sinks are all out in the open to use.   My hope is that it will encourage people to wash their hands after using the restroom because other people can see whether they do or not.

I have several "trans" clients currently.  It's exciting to watch them go through the process of transitioning to the gender that feels congruent with their sense of self.  It's hard to imagine being born into a body that doesn't fit with one's internal sense of gender.  I have other clients who are gender fluid.  Many of us have been raised to see gender as being binary (you're either male or female).   The idea that people can have features and traits of males and females isn't that hard to  comprehend if one open's the mind to think beyond the narrative that many of us were raised to believe.

Monday of a short week, before Thanksgiving.  Going to see Taj Mahal at Jazz Alley later this week before the holiday.   I like Taj's shows.   Especially his cover of the Monkees  "Take a Giant Step", which was actually written by Carole King.  Funny how many music has connections to many different artists.

I have to read a bunch of research as part of doing a current  evaluation.   I feel like I am back in college, learning things that I will be quizzed on. Only the quiz won't be in class, it may be in a deposition or on the stand.  As high as the stakes are for me, I have to remember, this will impact a person regarding his freedom as well as another's sense of safety.  

It has been freaking cold lately.   I had to scrape ice off of my car windows last night before heading home from work.   I hope we get significant snow this year.  Everything becomes beautiful and it softens the noise of the city.

The updated style manual for how to prepare reports came out and they are now saying that one space between the punctuation at the end of a sentence and the first letter of the next sentence is the preferred way to write vs. two spaces which was the old way.   I love my two spaces between sentences.  It's been ingrained into my brain from when I took typing as a teenager.   I am sure I will adjust, but it's going to take a little time.

I have a couple clients who have released from prison after being locked up for decades. They are both quite successful at this time.   By successful I don't mean that they are millionaires. This is what I mean....  They have stable housing and employment.  They also have really amazing support networks.   But more than anything they have great attitudes.  They appreciate every day they are alive outside of prison.  They appreciate simple things in life like getting to choose what to eat for lunch, or when they get up in the morning.  They appreciate getting to choose who they associate with in their day to day lives.   When you go to prison you are stripped of the ability to make many simple day to day life decisions.   Some people leave prison unable to function, because even small decisions are overwhelming.   Others leave with a greater appreciation for life and their freedom.  They don't have to be rolling in money, because they are rich is so many other ways.

Day to day life stress can impact one's functioning in many areas.   If you are overwhelmed with stress, consider making a list of all of your current stressors.  Then decide which ones can you address more easily.  This will give you a feeling of empowerment and efficacy.  As a result of these successes, you are going to be better prepared to tackle the more serious stressors later on.

Recently I have been asked several times about my feelings regarding 12-Step programs as an adjunct to mental health treatment. One of the strong predictors of whether people will improve and not backslide relates to having a positive support group in their lives.  It can be friends, a church, or mentors, to name a few.  I view involvement in 12-Step programs in this same category.   There are only a couple hesitations.   First, if you are going to AA to find new drinking buddies, it isn't helpful because you are misusing the 12-Step group for destructive reasons.  Second, is when groups are poorly run and allow counterproductive behavior to remain in the day to day functioning of the group.  The most important issue of the two in my opinion is that the group is stronger than any individual or individuals.  If people come in and are new to sobriety, they may act out.  The key is whether the group is strong enough to contain that behavior and not allow it to spread or gain a foothold.  You can feel the  power of a well run group, and it is very exciting.

Monday again.    I have a fair amount of paperwork to complete.  I am going to be focused and get as much done as possible.  So far I am doing marginally OK in doing paperwork.

The holiday season is just around the corner.   Are you ready?   What are you coping mechanisms in dealing with the stress that comes along with this time of year?   For me, I need to load up my iPhone with calming songs, vs. loud, fast and noisy songs.

Blood Sweat and Tears is playing at Jazz Alley tonight.  They are doing their 50th anniversary show.   One of the only remaining members is the lead singer.   Kind of weird seeing a band with only one or two original members.   As strange as it will be, it would be stranger if the only surviving member was the drummer.  I was wrong, there are no original members, because the lead singer of BST - David Clayton-Thomas has also left the band.  A contestant from the TV show The Voice is now their lead singer.  He sounds sort of like David Clayton Thomas. 

Today was one of those days that nothing went as planned, and generally in an annoying way.  It tests one's coping skills to get through the day.   You almost come to expect that the next thing won't go as planned after a few things go awry.  I will say that my commute home on Friday afternoon went much faster than expected with no hiccups.   That is one thing I do dread (my Friday afternoon commute).   And at least that went fine.  When I got home I had three packages from Amazon.  That was a nice surprise.

A little while ago Judge Judy publicly put her support behind Michael Bloomberg as he appears to be gearing up to run for president.  It's always weird to me when celebrities weigh in on political issues.   On the one hand, I can see why they might get involved in politics.  However, on the other hand I am not really sure I care what celebrities have to say about who I should vote for.

Thanksgiving is about two weeks away.    What are you thankful for this year?   Remember there are many people who don't have permanent housing.   I work with some.    If you are feeling like life is hard or unfair, remember you have a place to go home to with heat and running water.   There was just a piece about a man who was a Yale graduate who is now living on the streets.   If you think it can't happen to you, be careful because life is uncertain.

I am in the middle of doing a few evaluations.  They are very diverse as far as what caused the referral to me.   An interesting dynamic that is coming up more and more is the delayed disclosure of abuse and the expanded statute of limitations allowing for these cases to be prosecuted.   The thing about many of these cases is that the abuse occurred when the perpetrator of the abuse was a minor and is now an adult.   These men tend to be low risk for future sexual acting out, with few treatment needs.  My role many times is to confirm that this is true before any deal is made.

Happy Veterans Day!   As much as my dad disliked being in the Air Force, I think in the end it was good for him.   It helped bring my parents together.   Today is a day to thank a veteran for his or her service.   

Last night I saw Philip Bailey again and did the meet and greet thing.  I ended up meeting his wife as well, who does background vocals.  What a nice couple.

Tomorrow is the big game for the Seattle Sounders.  I hope the home-field advantage will carry them through to win it all.  Hopefully this will be a decisive win and not like the other championship title that came down to penalty kicks in overtime.

Periodically I get migraines.  I woke up with one today.   Medication, a little caffeine, and sleep seem to be the best medicine.  Fortunately by about 4 I was better.   Thank Goodness.

Night #1 of Philip Bailey.  What a treat.   I would rather see him solo than with EWF because the setlist isn't just predictable tracks, but he mixes it up.  This tour he is doing a couple songs by Curtis Mayfield, a track by Shirley Horne that he likes and a few new songs from his new CD.   That voice is so incredible.  Going to try and make as many shows as possible.

There is one primary organization that I do fundraising for which is King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.   They are moving soon, because their current location is being razed and redeveloped by the land owner.  Help support them this year in particular as they are making their move to a new location in Renton.  Here is my page: https://donate.kcsarc.org/fundraiser/2476738

Tonight I am going to see Savion Glover perform.   I don't know much about him at all.   Sometimes it is nice to attend something that is new and different.    I am looking forward to this.   Later in the week Philip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire is in town.   I have seen him many times before, either in EWF or solo.  This will be the familiar music this week.

Election eve in Washington State.   What has become apparent over the years is that local races are important in some ways more than the national ones.   Don't forget to turn in your ballot.    With mail in ballots that have pre-paid postage, it is so easy to vote in Washington.  Not to mention there are many places you can drop off your ballot in person.   

Daylight Savings Time....   The twice yearly change in time apparently takes a toll on us humans in many ways. Washington State has passed a bill not to change the time anymore.  Apparently the US government has to approve this before it can go into effect.  The days of DST making sense are long gone since we are not a country focused primarily on agriculture.  Perhaps this is one change that could muster bipartisan support.

Yesterday ATT texted me saying they had changed my plan and doubled my data, but  would charge me an extra $5 per month.   What annoyed me more than anything was that they didn't ask if I wanted to do this, they did it and told me it was happening.    When I called customer service they said they were upgrading everyone on old plans to newer plans automatically.   Apparently when you are a big company you can try and get away with this nonsense.    While $5 isn't much, if you multiply that by a million accounts, that could add up to a lot of money.  Plus I am sure they were somehow also changing their terms of service and by allowing the change to the new plan, you would be agreeing to new terms.  I didn't have time to read the changes, nor did I want to make the time.   Again, it wasn't so much the $5, it was the presumption that they could change the terms of our agreement without even asking me.

Going to see Con Funk Shun again tonight at Jazz Alley.  Last night was great.  I love music that has a great bass line.  And 70s R&B / Soul and Funk music has the bass prominently featured.